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The whole of this volume has been carefully revised for 

reprinting. In the first part the alterations are only 

verbal ; but two new chapters — on the last Maratha War 

and the Ocean Highway of Britain — have been added 

towards the end, and the whole of the last Book has 

been recast and in part rewritten. 

A. Wyatt Tilby. 

How-Stean, Cambridge Road, 

Wimbledon, September 1910. 

O* »<»• W iLi- '^J <J 



Preface to the Second Edition . 




I. The Undiscovered Orient 

II. India 

HI. The English East India Company : 1600-1700 
IV. The Struggle for India : 1700-57 . 




I. Clive and His Policy: 1757-67 
II. Warren Hastings : 1767-85 
iiL Parliament and the East India Company 
IV. The Forward Policy : 1798-1805 . 
v. The Last Maratha War : 1805-28 










I. The United Kingdom 

II. The European War : 1793-1814 

III. England Triumphant at Sea : 1793-1815 

IV. The Ocean Highway of Britain 
V. The Final Reckoning : 1815 



Book VI 





To the Grecian and Roman world Asia was little more than 
a name. The cities of Asia Minor were indeed linked with 
the civihsed states that had sprung up around the Mediter- 
ranean. The expedition of Alexander the Great had made 
a temporary bridge between East and West. The products 
of China were transported slowly by adventurous merchants 
to the marts of Europe. The artistic wares of India were 
carried equally slowly by raft and boat across the ocean to 
Suez, or by lagging caravan overland through Persia to 
Damascus. And the students of Athens and Rome had some 
rudimentary ideas of oriental geography, which their maps 
and manuscripts have preserved. But to the Greek the 
world was Greece and barbarism ; to the Roman the 
world was Rome, and again barbarism. To the north of 
the Alps they knew of great cold lands inhabited by 
savages. In Africa, to the south of the few Latin cities 
that modern discoverers have disinterred, they knew of 
great hot lands, mostly desert, inhabited by wander- 
ing negro tribes that were hardly human to the cultured 
European. To the west the Atlantic rolled unexplored, 



and the Pillars of Hercules were the gates of the world 
and the limit of human knowledge. To the east, beyond 
Asia Minor, the same cloud of mystery hung, and the great 
continent was peopled only by the imagination of poets and 
the speculations of philosophers, both equally fantastic. 
There lay the civihsation of China, where a unique form of 
human life was evolved ; the only unchanging, undestroyed 
civilisation that the world has seen. There lay Japan, where 
institutions curiously analogous to those of feudal Europe 
were developed centuries before knight and squire and lady 
stood for the chivalry of the West. There lay Tibet, the 
sacred home of the world's greatest rehgion ; and to the 
south lay India, whose people, though still Asiatics, were separ- 
ated from the rest of Asia by an almost impassable barrier. 
But the empires, the arts, the Hteratures, and the philo- 
/sophies of the East were unknown in ancient Europe ; and 
! Asia likewise continued its tranquil, passive way, ignorant 
I of the subtle Greek and the forceful Roman. It was very 
gradually that knowledge came. European travellers pene- 
trated to the East but seldom, and those who returned filled 
their narratives chiefly with accounts of ' the anthropophagi 
and men whose heads do grow beneath their shoulders." 
; The Middle Ages saw httle change from older times. Only 
I Marco Polo can be said to have brought back any real in- 
I formation from the Orient ; and even that accurate explorer 
/^ was often misinformed. The other writers on Asiatic 
matters are sufficiently characterised by Sir John Mande- 
ville, the best known to English readers, and the most 
popular author of his time.^ But his book, fuU of childish 
fables and astounding adventures as it is, was less extra- 

^ Whoever wrote the work which goes by the name of the worthy 
knight, and which is now known to be a forgery, he was at least an 
entertaining liar. I can hardly say so much for the other travellers of 
the time, who are generally as dull as they are inaccurate. An exception 
may perhaps be made in favour of one Friar Jordan, a fourteenth-century 
author, the more intimate details of whose descriptions might well have 
caused some scandal among his clerical brethren. 


ordinary than others on the same subject. Whoever peruses 
the lengthy collections of mediaeval voyages that repose in 
our libraries, may indeed gain much curious insight into the 
state of ignorance that then prevailed in Europe ; but he 
will assuredly find Httle trustworthy information about Asia. 

Nevertheless the very mystery which hung over the Orient 
made it the more attractive. Its unknown riches were the 
theme of many a poem and many a wild romance. The 
great Musalman kingdoms of the East were regarded with 
awe. The culture of Bagdad was justly celebrated in the 
West. Palestine was the land of God, the Holy Land ; and 
when it fell before Islam, it became the one desire of Christen- 
dom to restore the sacred soil to the true faith. 

Then for the second time Europe and Asia met in arms. ' 
But the Crusaders achieved no real success ; and two cen- 
turies of warfare with the Saracens left the opponents as 
they had begun. There was no sign whatever of any European 
superiority ; on the contrary, the Christians had learnt much 
from the opponents whose reUgion they hated, and whose 
strength they feared. At one time, in fact, it seemed that 
Europe was fated to fall before the onward march of Asia ; 
and the close of the Middle Ages saw the Byzantine Empire 
in the hands of the Turks. Constantinople still remains 
largely oriental in character, as the European capital of an 
essentially Asiatic state ; but all danger of another Musal- 
man invasion died away soon after its fall in 1453. And the 
first successes of the Portuguese in India a few years later 
were the beginning of European dominion in the East. 

Enmity between the two continents was instinctive and 
inevitable, as a matter of race and creed, and the terror that 'j 
springs from ignorance. 

We look back to-day on the history of Asia as on a volume 
in an unknown tongue. We turn its pages industriously, but 
its significance we fail to realise. It is only a sentence here 
and there that we can understand. To the world at large 


there is no Asiatic history, save in the conquests of alien 
nations ; to the student there is also no Asiatic history, but 
in another sense. The field is too great for generahsation. 
There is no Asiatic thought ; there is no Asiatic character ; 
there is no Asiatic rehgion. The differences between civiHsa- 
tions are matters of race, not of continents ; and there is no 
one Asiatic race. There is as much distinction between 
Chinaman and Hindu as between aboriginal American and 
aboriginal African. There can be no Asiatic synthesis. 
The contrasts of Asia are not the contrasts of Europe. The 
Spaniard and the Saxon, the Teuton and the Gaul have 
developed in varying directions, but they have many points 
in common ; the radical differences between Mongol and 
Hindu come in an altogether different category. 


The English East India Company was founded on 31st Decem- 
ber 1600. The first Dutch voyages to the East had begun 
a few years before ; the Dutch East India Company was 
founded a few years later. The first French East India 
Company was formed in 1604 ; the first Danish Company 
in 1612. The Portuguese had already been trading regularly 
for a century in the eastern seas ; a German corporation was 
likewise formed a century later. And between these six 
nations of Europe the prize of Indian commerce was dis- 
puted for over two hundred years, until it ultimately rested 
in the hands of the English. 

The purpose of all save the Portuguese was at first trade, 
not empire. The Europeans who came to the East held 
generally but little communication with the natives. The 
main reason for the existence of India, in the eyes of the 


merchant, was the enriching of the West, and particularly 
of his own country, or the commercial corporation by which 
he was employed. The standpoint of the missionary, if higher, 
was in one sense scarcely more useful. Looking on the miUions 
of Asiatics with pity, as lost souls doomed to eternal tor- 
tures, he laid down his life in the heroic attempt to draw a 
few fish into the net of salvation.^ 

But merchant and missionary aHke, proud in the superiority 
of the true civilisation and the true rehgion, had Uttle sym- 
pathy with the people by whom they were surrounded. They 
were generally ignorant of the languages of India. The exist- 
ence of a hterature and philosophy rivalling those of Europe 
was not suspected ; indeed they could not be, guarded as 
they were by jealous care by the Indians themselves. And 
to the European, the religion of the Hindu was not merely 
false ; it was a contrivance of the devil to keep poor savages 
from the true faith. Christianity recognised in Mohammedanism 
an old foe ; in the various forms of Hinduism it saw nothing 
but a debased superstition. The modes of life and national 
customs which had grown slowly during thirty centuries 
were not understood. The art of the East, which dehghted 
to decorate with lavish hand what nature had so lavishly 
given, was stigmatised as barbaric. The architecture of 1 
India, differing fundamentally aHke from the sombre, mystic | 
Gothic and the proudly pure renascence styles of Europe, / 
was necessarily condemned by critics who could see beauty ( 
only in the buildings with which they were familiar. \ 

To men such as these, it is httle wonder that the East \ 
remained a sealed book. And the Indians themselves kept| 
aloof from the invader. They, too, had the same pride of i 

^ The Portuguese evangelists follo\red hard on the steps of the 
explorers ; but the first English missionaries did not appear in India 
until early in the nineteenth century. Lord Minto, who was then 
Governor-General, complained that they denounced 'hell fire and still 
hotter fire ' against all who were not of their way of thinking. He was 
forced to curb their activities to preserve the public peace. 


race that animated the European. They, too, were satisfied 
with their own civilisation. Trained in the placid school 
of the East and enervated by a tropical climate, they looked 
with some contempt on the strenuous life of the Western, 
who seemed satisfied to spend his energies solely in the acquire- 
ment of wealth. 

Rut the true meaning of European influence in India can- 
not be understood without looking back to a time when no 
Primeval European had set foot there ; when in fact there 
India. were no Europeans as we now know them even 

in Europe, but only those aboriginal tribes whose rude 
remains still excite the curiosity of the antiquary. To under- 
stand anything of the social and religious phenomena that 
have played so great a part in Indian life and the annals of 
British India, it is necessary to turn to the origin of Indian 
history, some two thousand years before the Christian era 

The then possessors of that vast peninsula were rough 
tribes, who were still in the nomadic state which marks man's 
first advance above the beasts that roam in the forest. Each 
preyed on the other ; and the rude instruments of primitive 
man perhaps equalised the superior strength of the animal. 
To raise the corn that had become a necessary of life, a method 
pathetic in its simplicity was used. The ground was burnt 
bare, seed was thrown on the fertile soil ; and a good crop 
soon rewarded the exertions of the primitive farmer. When 
a further supply was needed, the tribe moved on to a fresh 
abode ; the same process gave the same result ; and there 
could be little reason for anxiety in that favoured land, where 
nature rendered toil almost superfluous. But despite the 
earthly paradise in which their lot had fallen, life can have 
had few attractions to the ignorant savages. If nature had 
given abundantly she had also cursed with no sparing hand. 
Existence was rendered hazardous by wild beasts, by serpents, 
by venomous insects, and by the deadly swamps engendered 


in the tropical vegetation. Exposed to peril on all sides, it 
is little wonder that the aborigines believed the world to be 
ruled by demons, and strove to propitiate their evil deities 
by sacrifice. Remj9,ins of these tribes survive to-day, in a 
state scarcely better than that of their ancestors four thousand 
years ago. The magnificent land they inhabited was worthy 
of better men than these. 

It is only with the immigration of the northern tribes that 
Indian history begins, as European history begins, however 
-dimly, with the arrival of what seems to have ^^^ 
been another branch of the same great family. Northern 
We can form some idea of their hfe in Central ^^^ ^^^' 
Asia before the great exodus ; but the hfe of the inferior 
race they supplanted has gone into silence. There is no 
record left of the half-formed, indistinct conceptions that 
stood for thoughts to the first human dweller in India. 
There is no echo more of his cry of anguish as he saw friend 
or child carried ofi by beast of prey or mysterious fever ; his 
terror, his ofierings, his occasional wild outbursts of mad- 
ness, when, impatient of the rehgious fetters his ignorance 
had forged, he felt powerless to break them save by the 
murder of himself and others ; all his petty Hfe and struggles 
have vanished before the onward march of a superior race. 

The earhest known invasion of India fingers on the border- 
land of history and imagination. What reasons impelled 
the northerners to leave their old settlements, to seek a path 
through the mountain fastnesses that guard the north of 
India, what vague unrest drove them to find new homes, 
we can only conjecture. But the struggle with the aboriginal 
Indian tribes still fives obscurely in the hymns of the sacred 
book of India, the Rig- Veda. The petitions for victory, 
the songs of triumph for success hardly won, the lamenta- 
tions over conu'ades fallen in the hour of peril, tell us 
something of that primeval race-conflict. The commentators 
of a later age have allegorised the tales of battle into spiritual 


combats with those universal powers of the air that in every 
religious system are so ready to lead men astray. But to 
the poets who first framed their hymns, and to their first 
hearers, dwellers both in a land not yet their own, threatened 
still by danger from man and beast, they must have appealed 
with awesome reahty. 

The Punjab was the first land occupied, and it became a 
basis for all future conquest. Slowly the aborigines were 
driven further and further downwards, overborne by the 
greater intelHgence and moral force of the newcomers. After 
centuries of warfare, now grown very indistinct to a world 
that has seen the same tragedy so often enacted, the invaders 
became masters of India. 

But a change had occurred in the course of the struggle. 
The aborigines were no longer driven from the land. In 
fact, they could not be ; for they had no further retreat 
save the ocean, and they dared not adventure themselves 
on what must have seemed the wastes of infinity. They 
submitted perforce to the law of conquest ; submissive 
in fact but not in wiU, they still cherished in their hearts 
a confused sense of injustice — a feeling that ever and again 
has broken out in passionate revolt against those iron 
laws of nature which decree the subjection of the lower to 
the higher man, the stagnant to the progressive. 

Conqueror and conquered were destined to live together 
for aU time. India became a world apart. On two sides 
of that enormous triangle the sea cut ofE communication 
with other lands. On the third, the great mountain ranges 
seemed an equally strong defence. Seldom indeed was the 
barrier broken. 

It is from the Rig- Veda, one of the earliest records extant 

The ReUgion ^^ ^^y branch of the human race, that we can 

of the form some idea of the men who first conquered 

India. To them, living in a world of marvels, 

a world whose course had not yet become tedious in the 


passing of many generations, all things appeared in wonder- 
ment as to the poet. Looking on the ever-changing, ever- 
changeless order of nature ; trying, as each generation that 
is not bhnd tries, to understand something of the hidden 
forces that animate river, mountain, tree or storm ; still 
endeavouring to read the great riddle, the why and where- 
fore of human Hfe ; reaching later the half-despairing, half- 
rejected conclusion of its purposelessness ; forming uncon- 
sciously the gods for their future generations to worship : 
thus in the Rig- Veda hes the record of their early thought. 
It is the key with which to unlock the ancient history of India. 

The invaders of India had no settled theological system. 
The stern caste customs which in later times confined learning 
to the priests had not yet arisen. The head of the family, as in 
all primitive nations, undertook the simple rites of worship for 
his sons and dependants. The spirits of deceased ancestors, 
who were believed to have returned beyond the mountains 
to that forsaken fatherland of which some memory remained, 
were often honoured. Many gods were evoked in prayer ; 
it was natural to see beneficent deities in the river that brought 
life and plenty to the parched land, in the majestic moun- 
tains that were a protection against invasion, in the spread- 
ing trees that offered shade. At times, indeed, came the 
higher thought that the entire universe, both as a whole and 
in its minutest parts, animate or inanimate, was pervaded 
and governed by one great deity, united and indivisible. 

But that idea has always proved too abstract and perhaps 
too lofty for the crowd ; and while in India it has been 
worked out to its logical end by the esoteric schools, the 
people at large have ever clung to the facile creed of Brah- 
manism. Its many gods ofEer the worshipper much choice ; 
its spiritual ideals have risen and fallen with the life of the 
nation, reaching now into a lofty conception of humanity, 
and anon sinking to a debasing superstition that can rever- 
ence the self-inflicted tortures of the fakir. 


But when the invaders made their first settlements in 
India, there were no holy places that could draw, as now, 
their thousands of pilgrims yearly. A people that can find 
its gods in nature needs no temples. Before the develop- 
ment of much that now seems most characteristic of Indian 
life, when the priests had not yet perfected the forms of 
ritual, and caste had not yet crushed the individual, each 
man could offer from his own house the sacrifice that pleased 
him to the god that he had chosen for his personal protector. 
And the passionate questionings that occur and recur in each 
book of the Rig- Veda show how far the poet-prophets who 
formed it were from beHeving they had solved the riddles 
that surrounded them. ' The stars up there that are seen 
at night,' cries one, ' where do they hide in the day ? The 
sun, not hanging on to anything, not made fast, how comes 
it that he falls not from such height ? By whose guidance 
does he travel ? Who has seen it ? How great is the interval 
that hes between the dawns that have arisen and those which 
are yet to arise ? Of dawn and night, which of them is the 
older and which the younger ? Who knows, ye sages ? 
They carry between them all that exists, revolving on one 
wheel. Where is the sun now ? Who knows it ? Over 
which heaven do his rays extend ? What, indeed, was the 
wood, what the tree, out of which they fashioned the heaven 
and the earth ? These two stand fast and grow not old 
for ever, while many days and mornings pass away. Where 
is the life, the blood, the self of the universe ? Who went to 
ask of any who knew ? Not laiowing, I go to ask of those who 
know, that I may know, I who do not know : he who stretched 
apart and estabHshed the six worlds in the form of the un- 
born, did he also establish the seventh ? ' 

Such deep queries, now high in hope, at times give way to 
despair. ' You will never behold him who gave birth to 
these things : something else it is that appears among you. 
Wrapped in darkness and stammering, wander through hfe 


the singers of liymns/ The unread riddle reaches across the 
gulf of time ; the helplessness of the first thinkers grappling 
with the unseen is echoed by our own. ' Nor aught nor 
aught existed then : not the aerial space, nor heaven's bright 
woof above. What covered all ? Where rested all ? Was 
it water, the profound abyss ? Death was not then, nor 
immobiHty ; there was no difference of day and night. That 
One breathed breathless in Itself : and there was nothing 
other than It. In the beginning there was darkness in dark- 
ness enfolded, all was undistinguishable water. That One 
which lay in the empty space, wrapped in nothingness, was 
developed by the power of heat. Desire first arose in It — 
that was the primeval germ of mind, which poets, searching 
with their intellects, discovered in their hearts to be the bond 
between Being and Not-Being. The ray of light which 
stretched across these worlds, did it come from below or from 
above ? Then seeds were sown and mighty forces arose. 
Nature beneath and Power and Will above.' 

But the singer knows no more ; and the enigma that can- 
not be answered ends again in despair. ' Who indeed knows ? 
Who proclaimed it here ; whence, whence this creation was 
produced ? The gods were later than its production — who 
knows whence it sprang ? He from whom the creation 
sprang, whether He made it or not, the All-Seer in the highest 
heaven. He knows it — or He does not.' The poet stops 
abruptly. The terrible melancholy that could doubt whether 
the great author of all Himself understood the work He 
had made overwhelmed belief in the minor powers to 
which man had learnt to cling. Sun, moon, and river 
remained the deities of the people ; but the thinker, 
striving steadfastly for the origin of life itself, saw the 
pettiness of the ideals that served the crowd. In baffled 
ignorance he flung away all that before had satisfied ; 
and in one great negative turned hopeless from a problem 
inexplicable to the sons of men. 


Such miglit be the higher thoughts of the inspired singer ; 
but the people required a positive faith that allowed of spiritual 
peace. The poet himself in quieter moments returned to 
the older, lesser gods of nature ; and could rejoice in the 
beauty of form and colour that they renewed every day. 
The sun was the impassioned wooer of the dawn ; the 
dawn a timid maiden fleeing from the embrace of a too 
ardent lover. The sun again was the great protector and 
father, rising in might to visit and comfort his children after 
the terrors of darkness, conquering his enemies as he rose 
higher, at last to sink in triumph, or it might be, in clouds 
of defeat as his allotted time drew near. Agni, god of fire, 
was the mysterious mortal brother of man, whose home was 
the sun, the water and the plants, and whose parents were 
two pieces of wood that he devoured at his birth. 

But from the plea of remorseful agony uttered when the 
unsolved mystery ever returned to perplex — ' Have mercy, 
Almighty, have mercy ; let me not yet enter into the house 
of clay ; have mercy, Almighty, have mercy,' cries the 
poet — one sees dimly that the old faith was no longer 
sufficient. Symbols that had been accepted without demur 
in infancy became inadequate in the light of fuller knowledge. 
And the nation lay in danger as the upheaval of thought be- 
came more marked. The old road was henceforth impossible ; 
but whither led the new ? Half -unconsciously and perhaps 
not understanding the greatness of the thoughts working in 
him, the poet sees the change. ' I now say farewell to the 
father, the Asura ; I go from him to whom no sacrifices are 
ofiered to him to whom men sacrifice. In choosing Indra, I 
give up the father, though I have hved many years in friend- 
ship with him. Agni, Varuna, and Soma must give way, 
the power goes to another : I see it come.' Encompassed 
wth mysteries, seeking the unknown God, discarding the old 
creed as it became impossible, but still filled with sadness at 
the loss of a lifelong friend, the poets groped towards the new. 


real truth that should bring peace to themselves and to their 

In this change of beUef we first mark the change of hfe that 
has made India what it is. With the settlement of the nation 
the time had ceased when each family was all- 

. TII6 C3.St6 

sufficing and independent. The speciaUsation of 
labour had begun ; and with the separation of man from 
man as their work set them in different stations in the eyes of 
the world lay the first sign of the caste. That system sprang 
from the same root that brought forth mediaeval feudalism 
in Europe ; from the absolute necessity of an orderly succes- 
sion of degrees in the general working of the state. The 
first castes rose naturally in India, as the organisation of 
the people became more complex ; and these primitive 
social divisions were such as can be seen at some period in 
almost every country. 

In the great Brahmanic code, the Laws of Manu of a later 
date, the principles regulating the castes are laid down. ' To 
Brahmans (the priests) he (Brahma) assigned teaching and 
studying the Veda, sacrificing for their own benefit ; for 
others, the giving and accepting of abns. The Kshatriya 
(warrior) he commanded to protect the people, to bestow 
gifts, to ofier sacrifice, to study the Veda, and to abstain 
from attaching himself to sensual pleasure. To Vaishya 
(the working class) to tend cattle, to bestow gifts, to offer 
sacrifices, to study the Veda, to trade, to lend money, and 
to cultivate land. One occupation the Lord prescribed to 
the Shudra, to serve meekly the other three castes." In 
these few words we find the basis on which India has been 
founded, and on which its social scheme of life has been 
governed for more than twenty centuries. While the less 
steadfast western world has its customs which vary with 
every generation and with every kingdom, its philosophers 
who represent every shade of thought from anarchy to 
despotism, its empires that have been founded on rehgion, 


on freedom, on revolution, or on mere brute force : the 
unchanging course of life in India has flowed on from genera- 
tion to generation through the same channels. The brief 
revolt of Buddha appears now but as an episode in such 
stupendous annals : and save for the elaboration of the 
system, the world has not altered in the East, from the age 
of Socrates to the age of Herbert Spencer. 

' The duty of Brahmans is to teach and to study the Veda,' 
declares the code. The sacred books were collected and 
systematised ; the worship which each man had freely given 
as his heart moved him was now decked with an elaborate 
ritual, performed only by professional priests. They taught, 
they investigated science and doctrine ; they made the laws ; 
in their caste was concentrated the intellectual hfe of the land. 
They were not backward in asserting their power in the great 
code of Manu, which they originated. ' A Brahman coming 
into existence is born as the highest on earth, the lord of all 
created beings, for the protection of the treasury of the law. 
Whatever exists in the world is the property of the Brahman ; 
on account of the excellence of his origin, the Brahman is 
indeed entitled to it all. The Brahman eats but his own 
food, wears but his own apparel, bestows but his own in alms ; 
other mortals subsist but through the benevolence of the 
Brahman. Know that a Brahman of ten years and a Ksha- 
triya of a hundred years stand to each other in the relation 
of father and son ; but between these two the Brahman is 
the father. A Brahman, be he ignorant or learned, is a great 
divinity. Though Brahmans employ themselves in all kinds 
of mean occupations, they must be honoured in every way : 
for each of them is a very great deity.' Such was the 
orthodox doctrine, the ideal of unlimited power ; but it 
was modified as necessity occasionally dictated. ' Ksha- 
triyas prosper not without Brahmans ; Brahmans prosper 
not without Kshatriyas. Brahmans and Kshatriyas, being 
closely united, prosper both in this world and the next.' An 


alliance between moral and material force seems sometimes 
to have been necessary ; nor is it only in the East that the 
priests and warriors have found interests in common. 

The third class, the Vaishya, were the bulk of the people. 
Commerce and agriculture were in their hands : the day- 
labour, honourable, and in those fertile territories then not 
hard, belonged to them. But the division between trade 
and trade, which developed with appaUing nicety in after 
centuries until every occupation to the very thieves and 
beggars formed a caste, had not yet taken place. The 
later and more minute classification, logically sequent as it 
was on the first division in the Laws of Manu, was part of 
the order-loving method to which India clung. The trade 
guilds of mediseval Europe, the trade unions of modern 
industrial Hfe, offer but a faint comparison to the hereditary 
castes of India. Even the Venetian glass-blowers, the most 
exclusive of all Western societies, must hide its diminished 
head before the least important of its Hindu rivals. 

The fourth caste that the great code recognised was the 
Shudra. ' One occupation the Lord prescribed to the Shudra 
— to serve meekly the other three castes.' Strictly speaking, 
they were of no caste. They had no rights. Their highest 
aspiration could be but to serve their superiors. All others 
were twice born, as the mystic doctrine of the East laid down : 
they alone were not. Esteemed lower than the domestic 
animals which the Hindu of caste held as friends, as pro- 
tectors, and later as gods, the casteless man stood without 
the pale of humanity. None of the proud twice-born would 
hold communication with the Shudra. The very drinking- 
vessel from which he quenched his thirst was defiled. His 
touch was contamination. He alone, of all the things that 
God had made, was accursed. The twice-born lost his caste 
if he had sinned ; he could be degraded to the level of the 
Shudra ; but never could Shudra rise from slavery and con- 
tempt. The sadness of their fate and the drear monotony 


of their life runs like a dark thread of tragedy through all the 
history of India. To be casteless is to be hopeless. But it is 
not in the Hterature of the land that we may look for their 
cry of misery, uttered or unuttered, that went up from 
generation to generation. Learning lay in the hands of 
the Brahmans alone ; and they, busied with their schemes 
of a perfect hfe and an ideal philosophy, had no more 
interest in the Shudra than a modern sweater or rack-rent 
proprietor has in the wretched beings from whom he gains 
his wealth. 

It was as a protest against this injustice, and against the 
growing ceremonialism of rehgion and the power of the priest- 
hood, that Buddhism found its strength. The 
hfe of Buddha throws the soft hght of mercy 
over the gloomy record of the time ; and later generations, 
with a loving recognition of the human sympathy that he 
helped to bring back to earth, have surrounded his career 
with poetic legends that still teach their own lesson. 

Siddartha, the founder of Buddhism, was a king's son. 
He was born close to Nepal, in Northern India, where the 
snowy bosoms of the Himalayas seem to touch the skies. 
Prodigies attended his birth ; and all the portents declared 
that the new prince should be a great conqueror. This 
was perhaps no more than was proclaimed by courtiers 
as the future lot of every prince of every royal house ; 
but the father of Siddartha had visions of prostrate peoples 
and captive monarchs that should bow before his son's 
strong arm. Later ages have remembered in another way 
the victory of the Prince of the Great Renunciation. 

As he grew, all that the heart of man could desire was 
his. Sensual luxury and refined art, the most attractive 
that the age could boast, were poured out before him. 
But he was not happy. The palace seemed a prison ; and 
a vague consciousness of misery without, in the unknown 
world that lay around, troubled the gentle heart. 


The beauty of the legend that teUs of his discovery of 
pain and suffering has immortahsed it. When the king 
his father permitted him to come forth to see his subjects, 
a proclamation was made that all should be happiness among 
the people. The bhnd, the old, the maimed, the halt 
and lame must remain within ; only the young and hale 
might come to rejoice before the prince who honoured 

The day arrived : and as Siddartha rode in triumph, all 
indeed seemed bright. He too rejoiced ; the misgivings 
that had troubled him faded. He had watched the per- 
petual war of beast against beast in jungle, lake, or forest ; 
and had wondered as he saw the cruelty of slaughter hidden 
beneath the fair face of nature. But to mankind at least 
the gods had granted happiness. 

He was quickly undeceived as an aged cripple groped his 
way across the street, begging an alms. The misery that 
could not be hid woke the prince from his dream of pleasure. 
He returned home sick at heart. ' I have seen that I did 
not think to see.' He could not be comforted as he thought 
of the sad fate that drew weak and strong ahke to the same 
dark ending. 

The very joy that his coming had brought to the people 
was not a part of their daily Hfe ; and he determined to see 
that Ufe as it was lived on ordinary days, when no royal 
proclamation bade them rejoice. He wandered disguised 
and unknown through the city, seeing the common round 
of joy and sorrow that changes little from one generation 
to another. The pains of birth, the pains of death, the many 
pains that He between, were spread before the prince ; and 
more saddened than before, the tranquil ease of his own 
existence appealed no longer to him. The wife he had 
chosen, the luxury that surrounded him, brought no comfort 
to the prince who thought ever of the misery without the 



It was then that Siddartha renounced the glory to which 
he had been born, and wandered forth to beg his bread with 
the meanest ; hoping to find in meditation some solution of 
the dark mystery of Hfe. Six years he pondered ; but no 
clue came to the riddle of the waste, the futihty of Ufe itself, 
so constant in its misery, so transient in its joy. 

The legends tell of the deep humility, the broad humanity 
he showed. A casteless man lamented that he could not 
give him milk ; the touch of the Shudra was accursed. The 
reply was fuU of pity for the slave that his fathers had made. 
' Pity and need make all flesh kin. There is no caste in 
blood. Who doeth right deeds is twice-born, and who doeth 
ill deeds vile." 

The doctrine of caste that was eating Hke a canker into 
Indian Hfe was confronted by the doctrine of equaHty, of a 
caste that could only be recognised as a man's work was 
good or evil. Full of pity for the weak, denouncing those 
whose wrong causes sufiering, Siddartha found in the 
mystical doctrine of transmigration, of continual promo- 
tion or degradation in each successive existence, the solution 
of his problem : until, as Hfe after hfe was passed on higher 
and higher plane, the perfect soul that had struggled free 
from the world's shadows could find peace at last in absorp- 
tion with the infinite Nirvana. 

Such principles as these struck at the heart of Brahmanism. 
The struggle between the two rehgions became long and 
ardent. The priests of the older dispensation were forced 
to adopt some of the tenets of their rivals ; and the merciful 
humanity of the great prince softened a httle for a time the 
rigid doctrines that had enslaved India. But the compro- 
mise proved fatal to Buddhism, as it weakened the popular 
resistance to Brahmanism ; and it passed away from the land 
of its birth to other parts of Asia, where the gentle creed has 
brought peace to millions, as Buddhism still remains numeri- 
cally the greatest of the religions of mankind. 


But whatever relief it brought to China and Japan, in 
India the iron bands of caste again descended on the Hindus. 
The growth of observances and ceremonies increased un- 
checked, as ignorance and superstition descended on the 
people ; and the terrible rite of widow-burning, introduced 
through a mistaken reading of a text in the Rig- Veda, is but 
the most notorious instance of many which might be 
adduced to show the degradation of India. 

In the older days, the Upanishad, the books of Brahmanical 
philosophy, had indicated how high the ideal of life could 
rise. Certain sacramental rites ushered a new- xhe 
born son into the world. At any time between upanishad. 
seven and eleven years of age, when the little mind- 
atom had enlarged itself somewhat above mere wonder- 
ment, and had already accumulated the first few ele- 
mentary facts of life, the child was sent from home to be 
educated. Returning after some twelve years, his own true 
life began. He was married ; and with ritual and sacri- 
fice and such daily work as was necessary, the wedded life 
passed as happily as might be. With the birth of the first 
grandchild his duty to the world was done. He retired into 
the forest to a contemplative life that was but a prepara- 
tion for his end. Ritual and ceremony for him were no more ; 
he had passed through the stage when they were necessary : 
and in the more advanced philosophy to which he had 
attained, their utter uselessness and even detrimental effect 
were recognised. 

The last retirement was still admitted by the Laws of 
Manu ; but as the Hindus sank from the former standard 
it was afterwards aboUshed ; and there is a world of sig- 
nificance in the fact. The old ideals were slowly pass- 
ing ; and to replace them, came the worship of cow and 

In all but material arts the nation seemed dead. Their 
craftsmen could stiU weave the wonderful fabrics that moved 


the astonisliment and envy of Europe. Palace after palace 

was built with oriental profusion ; the workers toiled 
lovingly then as now, at dainty trifles still inimitable by the 
rougher hand of the West. But no new teacher came, whose 
higher thoughts should lead to new endeavours for the holy 
life ; no great poet lived again among the people, to echo 
back new Vedas to his brethren of the past ; no second 
Buddha came, when the message of the first had been driven 
out to other lands. 

And meanwhile the distinction between esoteric and 
exoteric, that has more or less characterised all rehgions, 
but especially those of the East, became more strongly 
marked. The Brahman, proud of his creed, his philosophy, 
his purity, hved apart ; taking Httle thought for those whom 
he no longer recognised as fellow-men. The Kshatriya, con- 
fident in their privileges as warriors, passed their days also ; 
and when the hour of reckoning came, they were weighed 
in the balance and found wanting. For the Mughal and 
Mohammedan descended on India, and the stronger sons 
of war founded their kingdom among a nation they dispos- 
sessed and despised, even as the Hindus had conquered and 
despised those whom they had found in the land centuries 

Still, however, the life of the village communities went on 
much as of old. The tides of war and victory rolled past 
and were exhausted in the struggle ; but famine, plague, 
and savage beast were worse enemies, and brought more 
terror to the lower castes. Saint or pilgrim came or 
went ; fakir and devotee begged and showed their useless 
wounds ; generation after generation of caste and no-caste 
travelled ahke into the great unknown ; and the tradition 
of the blessed abode behind the northern mountains from 
which their ancestors had sprung yet lingered among the 




Although there is an untrustworthy tradition that an 
Enghshman travelled to the Far East early in the ninth 
century, the first of our countrymen who is known actually 
to have set foot in India, is one Thomas Stevens, a Jesuit 
who landed at the Portuguese settlement of Goa in the year 
1579. The letters which he sent home contained Uttle that 
was remarkable, or that could not have been gathered from 
other sources ; but they added to the lively interest that 
was already felt among all classes as to the possibihty of 
opening up commercial relations with Asia. But indeed 
all the attempts that had been made by Englishmen of recent 
years to find both the North-East and North- West passages 
had been in order to open up trade with the Orient, and the 
companies which had promoted those enterprises hoped to 
reach India themselves in due course. 

Four years after Stevens landed in India, three Enghsh 
merchants made their way overland to the East ; but on 

^ Authorities. — There is no history of the East India Company which 
can be regarded as authoritative, but most of its transactions are pre- 
served at the India Office in London, from which an abstract has been 
made by Hunter. The enormous number of pamphlets published in 
England, both condemning and defending the Company, which are 
collected at the British Museum and the Guildhall Library, are of 
interest, and frequently throw much light on the conduct of affairs by 
the directors. The official series of Indian records and Indian texts now 
being published promise to be of great value. Of the regular historians, 
Orme and Mill are good representatives of the older school ; but every 
other writer has been superseded by the monumental works of Sir W. 
Hunter. I follow him on almost every occasion in preference to all other 
authorities : practically the only noteworthy point, indeed, on which I 
have ventured to differ from him was in the last chapter, where I 
have used the terra ' northern invaders ' instead of Aryan. It is a much 
debated problem whether philology alone can be considered a safe guide 
to racial origin, and many now incline to doubt whether the early union 
of the European and Indian peoples can be assumed, until at least 
additional corroborative evidence in other branches of science is adduced. 


arrival at Goa they were imprisoned by the Portuguese, 
and nothing came of their enterprise, save that one of their 
number eventually entered the court service of the Great 

The beginning of the direct commercial connection between 
England and the Orient twenty years later was curiously 
The East simple. Towards the close of the reign of 
India Com- Elizabeth the Dutch traders raised the price 
pany, 1599. ^^ pepper from three to eight shillings a pound. 
Mainly in consequence of this extortionate increase, though 
perhaps with some touch of romance still stirring in the 
hearts of the worthy citizens, the Lord Mayor and 
merchants of London met on 22nd September 1599, at 
Founders Hall, Lothbury, and there agreed ' with their own 
hands to venture in the pretended voyage to the East Indies, 
the which it may please the Lord to prosper.' Under their 
auspices, an association was formed on 31st December 1600, 
with the title of ' The Governor and Company of Merchants 
in London trading to the East Indies.' The association had 
125 shareholders and a capital of £70,000 ; and the charter 
gave it power to export £30,000 in bulHon, the same to be 
returned at the end of the voyage. The charter of incorpora- 
tion was for fifteen years. 

On 2nd April 1601 the first fleet for the East sailed from 
London, laden with £28,742 in bullion, and Enghsh goods 
The First worth £6860, such as glass, cutlery, and hides. 
Voyage. Particulars of the vessels have been preserved 
and run as follows : — 

Red Dragon, 600 tons, James Lancaster, master, with 202 

Hector, 300 tons, James Middleton, master, with 108 men. 

Ascension, 260 tons, WilHam Brand, master, with 82 men. 

Susan, 240 tons, John Heywood, master, with 88 men. 

Guest, 130 tons, accompanying the fleet as victualler. 

The pilot was John Davis. 


The fleet arrived at Sumatra without incident ; a trading- 
liouse was founded at Bantam, and commercial relations 
were established with the king of Achin. 

On the return of their vessels in 1603, with a cargo of 
peppers and rich spices from the Moluccas, Banda, Ambojma, 
Surtatra, and Bantam, the promoters of the enterprise reahsed 
a profit of ninety-five per cent. 

There was thus nothing to distinguish the East India 
Compmy from the other corporations which had been formed 
in recent years for the purpose of trading abroad ; the Russia 
Company, the Turkey Company, and the Morocco Company 
stood on the same footing, and might anticipate as good results. 
There was certainly nothing to indicate that the company 
which was formed on the last day of the sixteenth century 
would out-distance all its competitors, EngUsh and foreign, 
and at length develop into an empire. 

But the first decade of the East India Company was 
smooth and prosperous, and the merchants of the time 
doubtless congratulated themselves on their success, as they 
gossiped on the Exchange, or counted their gains in the 
offices of Cheapside and Gresham Street. 

Success naturally generated opposition and rivalry at home. 
There were some who were jealous of the Company ; there 
were others who beheved that the temporary The 
export of bulHon impoverished the home country ; ofthe^*^ ^ 
there were those who could not see any advan- company, 
tage in either trade or communication with foreign lands. 
But the East India Company proved singularly well quahfied 
to defend itself. One or two extracts from the pamphlets 
pubhshed under its direction will show that it left no stone 
unturned to convince the pubhc of the benefits conferred by 
the oriental trade. 

During a dispute that occurred in 1621, a tract was issued 
by one Thomas Nun to controvert the growing contention 
that ' it were a happier thing for Christendom (say many 


men) that the navigation of the East Indies by way of the 
Cape of Good Hope had never been found out,' He pleaded 
that since the discovery of this route, ' the kingdom is purged 
of desperate and unruly people who, kept in awe by the goZ)d 
disciphne at sea, do often change their former course of life 
and so advance their fortunes ' ; the new trade with the 
East, he urged, was ' a means to bring more treasure into 
the realm than all the other trades of the kingdom (as they 
are now managed), being put together ' ; indeed, ' sinee the 
beginning of the trade until the month of July last, anno 
1620, there have been sent thither 79 ships in several voyages, 
whereof 34 are already come home in safety richly laden, 
four have been worn out by long service from port to port 
in the Indies, two were overwhelmed in the trimming thereof, 
six have been cast away by the perils of the sea, twelve have 
been taken and surprised by the Dutch, whereof divers vill 
be wasted and little worth before they be restored, and 21 
good ships do still remain in the Indies. First there hath 
been lost £31,079 in the six ships which are cast away, and 
in the 34 ships which are returned in safety there have been 
brought home £356,288 in divers sorts of wares which have 
produced here in England towards the general stock thereof 
£1,914,000. So there ought to remain in the Indies to be 
speedily returned hither £484,088. Pepper, mace, nutmegs, 
indigo, rum, silk, which would have cost £1,465,000 if pur- 
chased at the old rate, could now be purchased in the East 
Indies for £511,458.' 

Again in 1628 a petition was made to the House of Commons 
showing that of late years ' some evil encounters, not only 
of the seas and enemies, but more especially the undue pro- 
ceedings and actions of our professed friends and allies, have 
infinitely damnified the said traffic . . . the aforemen- 
tioned disasters, and the carrying of foreign coins out of 
this kingdom into the Indies, have begot such causeless com- 
plaint in the mouths of many of His Majesty's subjects, of all 


degrees and in all places of the realm, that the adventurers 
are thereby much discouraged to trade any longer under 
the evil censure of the multitude, desiring nothing more 
than to obtain their private jv^ealth with the pubhc good/ 
The trade was declared by those concerned in it to ' increase 
the strength, wealth, safety, treasure and honour of this so 
great a king and kingdom,' and it was vaunted that fifteen 
thousand tons of shipping, and two thousand five hundred 
sailors were already employed by the Company.^ 

Such rephes had their effect, in saving the Company from 
suffering under the assaults of its enemies ; but the assaults 
themselves continued, and a Hvely paper war was waged for 
over a century between the opponents. The nature of the 
attacks may be gauged from the titles of some of the later 
pamphlets. In the year 1681, for instance, was pubhshed a 
' treatise wherein is demonstrated that the East India trade 
is the most national of all foreign trades, that the clamours, 
aspersions, and objections made against the present East 
India Company are sinister, selfish, or groundless.' This 
was for the defence, replying to the complaint that the 
shares of the Company were engrossed in few hands, and 

^ The East India Company grew into one of the greatest private 
shipping powers afloat. A special committee sat in London to control 
its marine ; its vessels, which were armed against attack on the high 
seas, were celebrated throughout the civilised world, and the post of 
captain in the Company's fleet was highly esteemed as both an honour- 
able and profitable occupation. The outward or homeward voyage might 
last any time from six months to a year ; calls were made at St. Helena, 
and sometimes at Cape Town, for refreshment and water. But in spite 
of putting in at these and other places for rest and change of diet, scurvy, 
that ancient scourge of the sea, ravaged the ships on every voyage. 
Sometimes all the men were down with sickness, and unable even to 
unfurl the sails, or to navigate the vessel into port. The following 
records of the vessels of the Dutch East India Company, which Mr. Theal 
has transcribed in his History of Cape Colony, give an idea of the fearful 
mortality among the seamen. In 1693, for example, 221 men of the 
Bantam died of scurvy on the voyage between Holland and Cape Town ; 
the Goude Buys had only 12 men in a crew of 190 that were not sick ; 
the Schoondyk reported that 134 men out of a crew of 254 had died, and 
the whole of the remainder were down with scurvy. Many other cases 
could be cited ; and it is improbable that the crews of English vessels 
sufi'ered less from disease than the Dutch. 


that tlie price of the stock, of which £100 then stood at 
£280, was too high. The complaint, indeed, was the best 
testimonial of its prosperity that the Company could have. 

Another pamphlet of 1695 objected that they ' have not 
been pleased to make war upon any other nation but the 
English,' and speaks of ' the frauds which this Company 
exercises over the rest of the nation/ One dated 1730 is 
entitled ' a collection of papers relating to the East India 
trade, wherein are shewn the disadvantages to a nation by 
confining any trade to a corporation with a joint stock,' 

It was not only rival merchants and capitahsts who were 
envious ; the Company for many years built its own 
ships, and thus roused the intense opposition of those who 
were injured thereby. ' Every man not his own shipbuilder,' 
is the title of an angry phihppic of 1778 : and the ' dangers 
and disadvantages ' of this enterprise had already been set 
out at length in 1768. 

It was all of no use ; the Company knew how to defend 
itself sufficiently well. The directors never hesitated to 
Its Policy bribe their more dangerous enemies ; the others 
in England, ^j^gy could disregard. The opposition continued 
as long as the Company existed ; one of its most virulent 
antagonists indeed was James Mill, the historian of British 
India, whose prejudice is shown on every page of his 
volimiinous work. But of more importance was the 
jealousy of competing merchants, and, at least in earlier 
years, the greed of the Crown. It needed considerable tact 
and not a httle unscrupulousness for a rich commercial cor- 
poration to weather the political storms of the seventeenth 
century, and perhaps the greatest praise that can be given 
to the East India Company is that, attacked by rivals as it 
was both in Europe and Asia, it not only did not go under, 
but actually advanced considerably in wealth and influence. 
Its Indian policy changed from time to time as necessity 
dictated, and the early directors would have been aghast 


at the discretionary powers allowed to the Company's Indian 
servants in Olive's day : but the home policy hardly ever 

The East India Company possessed by law a terminable ? 
monopoly ; and it was the first business of the Company to f 
keep it. If any infringement of that monopoly was threatened • 
a petition was at once lodged with the King or the Commons, | 
whichever for the time being was the more powerful : and 
according to the motives most likely to influence the one 
or the other, the directors offered either a bribe or a loan, 
or if uprightness happened to be in fashion at the moment, a 
consideration of the advantage their trade was to the kingdom 
at large. 

If these means failed, and a new competitor was fairly 
launched on the oriental trade, his capacity was gauged as 
quickly as possible. Did he appear of small importance, he 
was mercilessly crushed ; was it a company of large capital 
but indifferent management, it was contemptuously let alone 
till its funds were exhausted, in the certainty that it must 
then withdraw from the trade, and its failure deter other 
adventurers. Should it be, on the other hand, an enterprise 
that promised success, the advantages of amalgamation 
were ceaselessly paraded, and sooner or later the two combined. 

Such a policy could not be worked out all at once, or even 
for many years in its entirety ; but it was evolved gradually 
in the same way that the simple body of independent mer- 
chants who formed the Company up to the year 1612 changed 
step by step into an oligarchy, or closed corporation, direct- 
ing operations of enormous extent by means of committees 
and sub-committees. 

By the year 1708 the work of the Company was systematised 
and the mere list of its officials and divisions shows how well 
arranged were its affairs. The shareholders were 
divided into Courts of Proprietors, from whom 
were selected committees, the members of which were after- 


wards called directors. The qualification for a vote in the 
Court of Proprietors was £500 in stock ; the quahfication 
for a director, of whom there were twenty-four, was £2000. 
The latter were headed by a chairman and deputy-chairman, 
and each director was to be re-elected annually. Thirteen 
directors formed a quorum, and meetings were held as often 
as necessary. The directors divided their work among ten 
committees and others were added later. These ten were : — 
L Of correspondence : its work was the most private and 
responsible of any ; all Indian questions were re- 
ferred to it, all diplomatic and political affairs, as well 
as matters of patronage. 

2. Of law-suits. 

3. Of treasury. 

4. Of warehouses. 

5. Of accounts. 

6. Of buying. 

7. Of the house : that is, the management of the ofl&ce in 


8. Of shipping. 

9. Of regulating private trade : that is, to see that the 

Company's servants did not exceed the amount allowed 

by the Company's regulations. 
10. Of checking private trade : that is, to discover and 

put down, or give orders to put down, the trade of 

other EngHsh merchants in the East, which threatened 

the monopoly of the Company. 
But before the Company had become so imposing as to 
divide its work into sub-committees, it had undergone many 
Its vicissi- vicissitudes ; and had it not been for the ex- 
tudes in traordinary sagacity displayed by the directors, 
Engian . -^ would certainly have failed altogether. In 
1604 already the shareholders were needlessly alarmed 
at a charter granted to Sir E. Michelborne, to trade with 
Cathay, China, Japan, Corea, and Cambay. In spite of its 


imposing character and pretensions, however, the latter scheme 
came to nothing, and in 1609 the East India Company 
had its own charter renewed in perpetuity, but termin- 
able at three years' notice. In 1612 it was put on a joint- 
stock basis, but the operation of that system was as yet 
imperfectly understood, and the opposition that came from 
ignorance was naturally increased when both projS.ts and 
dividends decreased. The general attack made on monopoHes 
at this time looked threatening, though it passed without 
danger to the Company : but Eang Charles and the Duke of 
Buckingham claimed a share of the prize-money taken in the 
East. The directors protested, but Buckingham detained 
their ships when about to sail on the season's journey to India. 
The claim was then at once admitted, and an order made to 
pay ; it cannot, however, be ascertained that the amount 
was ever actually made over. 

But the profits continued to decrease, and fewer ships 
were sent out, although the general condition of England was 
prosperous ; and it would seem that, had the management 
not been temporarily at fault at this time, things should have 
gone favourably, and oriental goods been sure of finding a 
profitable market. 

In 1632 further subscriptions were required and obtained ; 
but three years later the king granted a Hcence to another 
company, taking a share in it himself. Again the danger 
was serious, and the older Company remonstrated before the 
Privy Council : after repeated petitions, the king disallowed 
the rival hcence ; but new difficulties now arose, since more 
capital was required ; and there were but few subscriptions, 
owing to the upheaval caused by the beginning of the Civil 
War in England. 

At this time, too, the king seized on the Company's store 
of pepper in London to replenish his purse ; he gave a bond 
to pay, but the debt seems never to have been settled. For 
the next few unquiet years, Httle information has been pre- 


served as to the doings of the Company, and it may be con- 
jectured from this and the poHtical troubles of the day, that 
the business did not flourish. 

Under the Commonwealth its privileges were again 
threatened, but eventually secured : by now, however, there 
was considerable confusion amongst the various stockholders, 
each of whom had entered the Company at different dates, 
and each of whom put forward difierent claims. 

At last in 1658 a new Company was formed, which bought 
up the old at a valuation, as well as disposing of a rival that 
had disappeared. No sooner was the Restoration accom- 
pUshed than the directors petitioned Charles ii. for a renewal 
of their charter, which was granted ; but trade again lan- 
guished until new capital was provided in 1667. In that 
year sixteen ships sailed for India, and each year thence- 
forward more were sent, and with a more valuable cargo. 
In the same year, 1667, the first order was given for a pro- 
duct that afterwards became a staple of the Company's 
trade : the factors were ' to send home by these ships 
100 lb. weight of the best tey that you can get." ^ 

All went smoothly from now until the year 1690, when 
the House of Commons decided on the formation of a new 
Company. Protests were in vain : ParHament obstinately 

^ The trade in tea soon became a source of great profit to the Company, 
as the taste for the beverage grew in England. In 1676 the agents of the 
Company at Bantam in Java were instructed to invest a hundred dollars 
annually in tea, which was probably the extent of the demand at home ; 
but in 1684 a trading-station was opened at Canton, which became the 
centre of the Chinese export tea trade, and eventually led to a regular 
traffic with China in other things besides tea, as well as to diplomatic 
complications. In the early decades of the eighteenth century tea was 
already a popular drink among the wealthier classes in England ; it was 
beyond the reach of the poor, however, for the greater part of the next 
hundred years. But the price fell continuously, and even the humble 
Uriah Heep could afford to drink it in his cottage at Canterbury, as 
well as the more prosperous Wellers at Dorking, in the later years of 
George iv. It may be noticed that in those days tea was generally served 
immediately after dinner, as is still the custom in some houses in 
Holland ; not until Victorian times did ' five o'clock tea ' become a social 
institution in England. 


aflSjmed the ' right of all Enghshmen to trade to the East 

But Sir Josiah Child, the chairman of the old Company, was 
prepared to meet opposition ; he ordered the servants of 
that body in India to seize and imprison all Englishmen who 
might be found in the East, and who were not in the employ 
of his Company. The Governor of the Company's Asiatic 
stations in answer stated his willingness to obey commands, 
but weakly expressed his fear that the laws of England stood 
in the way of illegal confinement. Child's reply was subhme 
in its contempt for the home authorities : ' he expected his 
orders were to be rules, and not the laws of England, which 
were an heap of nonsense, compiled by a few ignorant country 
gentlemen, who hardly knew how to make laws for the good 
of their own private famihes, much less for the upholding 
of companies and foreign commerce.' 

But ParUament, though unconscious of this contempt for 
its ordinances, had discovered that the Company was guilty 
of bribery to the extent of some £90,000 in one year : and 
the Commons, seeing a chance to score a point against the 
Upper House, impeached the Duke of Leeds for having 
accepted a gift of £5000. 

There is small doubt that he was guilty ; but through the 
adroitness of Child, the prosecution fell through. The two 
companies were now allowed to trade on equal terms ; but 
this was not enough for the older body, accustomed as it was 
to the monopoly of Indian commerce. It therefore brought 
an accusation of piracy against its rivals at the Asiatic Courts, 
having first carefully provided some foundation for the charge. 

' Two East India Companies in England,' it was said, ' could 
no more subsist without destroying one the other, than two 
Idngs ' : but the new company destroyed itself. To obtain 
its privileges, it had offered the enormous loan or bribe of 
two millions sterHng at eight per cent, to the Enghsh Govern- 
ment ; and when this was accepted and paid, there was 


nothing left for working capital. It struggled on for a few 
years, subject to every financial embarrassment at home, 
and reviled, obstructed, and defamed by its more energetic 
and capable competitor in India : but it was obviously of 
no use continuing in this manner, and on 22nd July 1702 the 
two companies amalgamated. The union was made final 
and indivisible six years later. 

!The success of the original Company had been as fluctuat- 
ing in India as at home. The first trading depots, or 
I The East factories as they were called in the language of 

' 1^1^^ ^^°™" the time, were estabhshed at Bantam and the 
pany m ' 

India. Moluccas, and others were attempted at Surat 

and Cambay. The two former aroused the hostihty of the 
Dutch ; the two latter were for a time frustrated by the 
Portuguese. Thus early was the Company made aware of 
the uncompromising enmity it would have to face from its 
competitors : but victory over the Portuguese in a skirmish 
in 1614 gave the EngUsh some reputation in India. 

They had already received a firman from the Mughal 
Emperor on 11th January 1612, giving them hberty to trade 
in his dominions ; and the embassy of Sir Thomas Eoe, two 
years later, did much to estabhsh their position as legitimate 
traders in the East. From the despatches he sent home it 
may be gathered that the advisabihty of building forts in 
India had already been debated. ' If the emperor would 
offer me ten,' he wrote, ' I would not accept of one. ... If 
you will profit, seek it at sea, and in quiet trade ; for without 
controversies, it is an error to affect garrisons and land wars 
in India.' 

Roe did something for his countrymen, too, in another 
direction. ' I have done my best to disgrace the Dutch,' he 
wrote, ' but could not turn them out without further danger.' 
He quickly reahsed the power of money in the court of an 
Asiatic potentate. ' Half my charge shall corrupt all this 
court to be your slaves.' Here again did the Company 


receive its first lessons in an art at which its chief officials 
later became adepts. Efforts were now made to open up 
trade with the Spice Islands and with Persia ; in the latter 
case with httle result, in spite of an agent being sent to the 
court of the Shah. * 

In the Spice Islands it was another matter, but here 
the success of the EngUsh soon caused a collision with the 
Dutch. A treaty between the Governments of The 
England and Holland was concluded on 17th July ^^^ * 
1619, guaranteeing mutual amnesty ; it was ob- HoUand. 
served in the East for one hour, while the rivals saluted 
each other courteously from their ships. The ceremony 
over, war at once began again ; and it culminated in 1623 
in the Amboyna outrage. 

Amboyna was one of the great Dutch trading stations in 
Asia ; and the competition of the EngHsh, which had never 
been welcomed, soon became uncomfortably keen The 
in the neighbourhood. At length the Dutch ^^^ 
attacked the Enghsh East India Company's 1623. 
factory there, seizing its occupants. These, consisting of 
ten Englishmen, nine Japanese, and a Portuguese, were 
told that in Dutch territory they must obey Dutch laws ; 
they were tortured and found guilty of conspiracy to sur- : 
prise the Dutch garrison, condemned, and executed. The 
charge may or may not have been true ; but the judicial / 
murder was at any rate a convenient, and, as the event I 
proved, a not very expensive means of getting rid of a dan- I 
gerous rival. 

As soon as the news of the Amboyna outrage reached - 
England, the country was in an uproar ; and the directors 
of the East India Company inflamed the indignation to the 
best of their ability, by descanting on the barbarity of the 
deed, and especially on the horrors of torture. The latter, 
was still a legitimate method of forcing a reluctant witness 
to speak in Holland, and it had not long been abandoned in 

VOL. II. c 


England itself ; but popular indignation has a short memory 
when it is convenient not to remember ; and the directors 
continually pubhshed pamphlets and ghastly pictures of the 
outrage, to ensure that there should be no slackening in the 
demand for revenge against Holland.^ Litigation ensued, 
but the matter was not finally settled till thirty years later. 
The dispute was then referred to arbitration, the English 
claiming two and a half millions sterhng compensation, the 
Dutch nearly three milhons : in the end the East India Com- 
pany received judgment for the insignificant sum of £3615. 

The massacre practically stopped English enterprise in 
the East Indian archipelago for two centuries, diverting it to 
the mainland instead ; but from that time till 1689 there was 
a bitter contest with Holland on the high seas and in the 
Indian peninsula itself. Neither English nor Dutch would 
be content without the monopoly of trade, and neither nation 
was deterred by excessive scrupulousness as to the means 
employed to gain it. 

On the ocean the fight was fair and square as between 
seamen. In the Asiatic courts it was conducted by intrigue, 
and the impartial historian finds it diflficuit to decide which 
nation produced more finished experts in the useful art 
of deception. In the Asiatic markets the Dutch agents would 
buy up the whole native produce at a higher price than the 
English were able to afford, and sell their European stock 

^ The outrage indirectly gave a new play to the English language, for 
Dryden wrote Amhoyna in 1673, in order to inflame his countrymen in 
general, and Londoners in particular, against tlie Dutch. The following 
lines from the prologue show the character of the play : — 

' The dotage of some Englishmen is such 
To fawn on those who ruin them, the Dutch. 
They shall have all, rather than make a war 
With those who of the same religion are. . . . 
Be gulled no longer ; for you '11 find it true. 
They have no more religion, faitii, than you ; 
Interest's the god they worship in their vState ; 
And you, I take it, have not much of that.' 

The play may have answered its purpose politically ; but considered 
as drama it is very poor stuff. 


so low that the English could not sell theirs at all. In the 
West again both nations tried their hardest to undercut each 
other. The Dutch on the whole seem to have been more 
successful at first, since theirs was a great state-trading com- 
pany with practically unlimited funds at its disposal, whereas 
the Enghsh East India Company was a private enterprise 
frequently kept in check by the national hatred of monopoly ; 
but the Dutch ruined themselves later by a short-sighted 
pohcy in not adapting themselves to the changing conditions 
of oriental trade, while the Enghsh kept fast hold of what 
they had, and were ever pushing forward for something 

Both Enghsh and Dutch East India Companies were abso- 
lutely dependent on the fidehty and industry of their servants 
in the East ; and to judge by the results in ^j^^ 
India and the East Indies, both were served well, company's 
The directors of the English Company were ^^^^^^*3- 
indeed continually grumbling that their employees in 
Asia were dishonest to their masters and lax in their execution 
of their duties, and the Dutch archives would probably reveal 
precisely similar complaints. But the commercial corpora- 
tion has yet to be found that is completely satisfied with 
the work of its employees. Serious and well-founded grounds 
for discontent there undoubtedly were on both sides, but 
the original fault generally lay with the directors. 

Although to enter the service of the Company soon became 
known as affording a promising career to young men, em- 
ployment at one of its Indian stations was valued rather for 
ulterior reasons than for any direct advantages. The pay 
was small ; the voyage was tedious ; the exile was long. 
The chmate was not always healthy ; it was frequently diffi- 
cult or impossible to obtain the conveniences of life, and 
promotion was seldom quick. The service required of the 
clerks, at least in the lower grades, was monotonous and 
irksome. Yet to those who desired to escape from the limits 


of their own narrow isle, or as it more generally was in those 
days of few travelling facilities, from the neighbourhood in 
which they were born, life in a strange country was full of 
romantic possibilities ; while it was always feasible to make a 
steady income, frequently a good competence, and occasionally 
to amass great wealth, by indulging in private trade. In 
the later days of the Company other opportunities ofiered, of 
extortion from the native princes and peoples, and the Enghsh 
in India were not slow to exact a profit from them as well ; 
but this was not until the Company had embarked on terri- 
torial sway. For the first century and a half of its existence 
the operations of the employees were restricted to private 
itrade. It is true that this was forbidden, and that the 
Vdirectors did their utmost to suppress it. They complained 
/ with reason that the Company's servants looked after their 
/ personal interests before those of the Company ; but the pay 
I was so small that they could not expect them to do anything 
I else. The salary of the Governor of Madras, for instance, was 
I only £300 yearly, and in 1664 he was given £200 extra on 
I condition that he ceased trading on his own account. He 
I accepted it, but it has not been ascertained that he took no 
' further advantage of his opportunities.^ 

From the nature of the case, the directors in London could 
not keep a complete check upon afEairs in India, and private 
trade continued as long as the Company was a commercial 
bod)'^ ; even Clive was unable entirely to suppress it. But if 
the directors lost on the one hand, they occasionally gained 
with the other. Some of their agents in the East did more 
to extend their trade than the remissness or cupidity of a 
whole generation of clerks did to lessen it. In 1651, for 
instance, an English surgeon, who happened to be at the 
court of Bengal, was successful in curing diseases that had 

^ The Dutch West India Company made the same complaint that its 
servants carried on private trade ; but that great corporation was equally 
powerless to stop the abuse. 


baffled the native doctors ; and on being asked to name his 
reward, he obtained a state Hcence for the East India Com- 
pany, which, on payment of three hundred rupees, allowed 
the corporation to carry on unhmited trade in the country 
without toll of customs. In 1664, again, the Company's 
servants at Surat repelled an enemy who attacked that city ; 
the natives had already fled in fear ; and on their return 
further privileges were granted to the defenders. 

The Indian system of the Company was simpHcity itself. 
Trade was carried on at a station, where English goods 
were exposed for sale to the natives, and where The Method 
the natives could bring their own goods to be °^ Trading, 
bought or exchanged. The Company's servants at each 
station were divided into ranks, named successively writer, 
factor, junior merchant, and senior merchant. Promotion 
was made from step to step. The stations were responsible 
to the presidencies, of which there were three, at Bombay, 
Madras, and Calcutta. Each of the presidencies was absolute 
and independent, except to the Company as supreme head ; 
each was ruled by a Governor and a Council consisting of 
various members. None of the earher servants of the Com- 
pany have left any name ; they seem to have been of average 
type, generally more or less capable and industrious. It 
was not until the next age that there was any opportunity for 
a great administrator ; at present they were, and they could 
only be, business men pure and simple. 

The stations of the East India Company in India were at 
first mere unprotected European settlements ; but the dis- 
turbed state of the country soon necessitated Territorial 
their fortification. In this step may be seen the Acquisi- 
germ of the territorial sway of the Company, as 
in the authority of the Governor and Council of the Presidency 
lay the origin of its later system of rule. 

But the responsibility of owning and administering land 
in India was naturally shirked by the directors. A trading 


company has nothing to do with government. And the 
i East India Company in particular had been warned by Sir 
\ Thomas Roe not to copy the Portuguese and Dutch, but to 
remain contented with commerce. His advice had been 
followed, and good results had accrued. It was by no wish 
■fof the Company that it became anything more than a simple 
^mercantile body. It possessed indeed civil, criminal, and 
■martial jurisdiction over its own people in India ; it 
obtained the power of making peace and war, and conclud- 
ing treaties with non-Christian peoples. Such functions were 
recognised by the directors as necessary ; but they had no 
desire for more, and for nearly a century they protested 
against any further power or responsibility. 

The first sign of a change is in a despatch dated 1689. 
' The increase of our revenue,' it says, ' is the subject of our 
care, as much as our trade ; 'tis that must maintain our 
force, when twenty accidents may interrupt our trade ; 'tis 
that must make us a nation in India ; without that we are 
but as a great number of interlopers, imited by His Majesty's 
royal charter, fit only to trade where nobody of power thinks 
it their interest to prevent us ; and upon this account it is 
that the wise Dutch, in all their general advices which we 
have seen, write ten paragraphs concerning their govern- 
ment, their civil and military pohcy, warfare, and the in- 
crease of their revenue, for one paragraph they Avrite concern- 
ing trade.' 

The remarkable change of view shown in this despatch was 
due to two or three different causes. The unsettled state 
of India had now rendered it incumbent on every man to 
guard his own possessions by the strength of his arm. The 
EngHsh Government could annul the rights of a trading 
company that depended on nothing but trade ; it could 
hardly confiscate the property of a corporation whose posses- 
sions were situated on the other side of the world. But the 
East India Company soon resumed its old attitude of dishke 


towards any territorial acquisitions made by too zealous 

The value of the stations which it already possessed had 
been proved, and the course of events had made the Company 
owners of territories other than these. The island of St. 
Helena in mid-Atlantic was used as a port of call for its 
vessels ; ^ and in India itself the Company had made further 
advances. Fort St. George was erected in the year 1639 
at Madraspatam, or Madras as it appears in the EngUsh 
abbreviation. Four years later it became a Presidency. 

Towards the end of the Commonwealth, when a period of 
misfortune menaced the Company, it was decided to rehn- 
quish tie out-stations, concentrating all business in Surat and 
Madras ; and at the Kestoration, when Charles ii. offered the 
directors the isle of Bombay, which was part of the marriage 
portion he had received from Portugal, it was refused. To 
the king, however, that place was more trouble than it was 
worth, and in 1668 the Company took it over, ' to be held 
in free aad common soccage, as of the manor of East Greenwich, 
on the payment of the annual rental of £10 in gold, on the 
30 September in each year.' 

In 1687 Bombay was erected into a regency, with un- \ 
linited power over aU the other EngUsh settlements in India ; \ 
at the same time Madras became a corporation, equipped | 
wiih the mayor and civic officials dear to the citizen's I 
heart. \ 

Already, too, on 20th December 1686, the agent and council j 
of the Company had left the old factory at Hugli, and come I 
to Sutanati, where, after some diplomatic fencing with the | 
Mughal Emperor, three towns were granted to the Enghsh, | 
among which was Calcutta. As Fort William, it became a f 
Presidency in 1700. / 

The nucleus of each of the three great Indian dependencies I 
therefore already belonged to the East India Company a I 
1 For St. Helena see book viii. chap. v. 


hundred years after the merchants of London had embarked 
on the ' pretended voyage ' to the Orient. 

Thus, at the close of a century of generally prosperous con- 
nection with Asia, England, as represented by the East India 
Company, was in an anomalous position. A mercantile 
corporation had begun to acquire powers hardly suifed to 
its original character ; but as yet the anomaly was scarcely 
very evident. At any rate, there was absolutely no indica- 
tion that it would eventually extirpate all its rivals in the 

Still less could the wildest dreamer have imagined that 
another hundred years would see the subjugation of the 
greater part of India by a body of foreign merchants Any 
one in the reign of Queen Anne who had prophesied half so 
great a future for the Company would have been quite justi- 
fiably detained in Bedlam. Yet the prophecy would have 
been no less than the truth. 


I The riches of the Indies had become a proverb in Europe 

I during the seventeenth century. The wealth of those who 

I engaged in the Indian trade was obvious to all ; {he 

^ mystery which surrounded the country made its fascinatbn 

greater. And as it became slowly evident that Asiatic con- 

j merce meant also Asiatic conquest, the competition betwem 

different nations became sharper, and the means employed 

among their agents grew more dubious. We have noticed 

the growing settlements of the Enghsh East India Company 

in the Orient during the seventeenth century : but the deca7 

1 Authorities. — As before, with Macaulay's Essay on Clive and the 
biography of him by Malcolm. Also Malleson's History of the French h 


of Portugal and the rise of Holland came about during the 
same epoch ; and the Danes and the Scots endeavoured to 
obtain a share of the traffic, while the French entered with i 
zest into the promotion of new interests in India. The first/ 
half of the eighteenth century is the history of a general 
and decisive struggle between all these powers. 

After the dechne of the Portuguese in the East it was a 
Frenchman who first conceived the magnificent idea of bring- 
ing India as a whole under occidental rule. The prize was 
not for his nation ; but it was no fault of the Gallic pioneers 
in Asia that the tiger and the elephant were never quartered f 
with the pure white lihes on the Bourbon shield. It was | 
a Frenchman who first saw that the disruption of the ancient f 
kingdoms of India was fxill of possibihties for the ambitious I 
European. The Western invasion of the East came in fact \ 
just at the time when the old order of things was passing \ 

The invasion of Timur had long since swept through 
India, by which the ' streets of Delhi were rendered impass- 
able by heaps of dead.' Other invaders had come Indian 
and gone as he. The Musalman invasion had Anarchy, 
founded a powerful dynasty, and introduced a new popula- . 
tion in India, whose pride it was that they alone possessed i 
the true faith and the key to the gates of Paradise. The if 
Mohammedans were ahens in the country they had conquered, | 
and they boasted of it. But in time their empire also broke ; 
up into separate kingdoms ; and at the period when Europeans I 
were first settling in the East a new synthesis of the Indian 
peoples was forcibly evolved by Akbar the Great, the real 
founder of the Mughal power. The states that had become 
independent were reduced, whether Hindu, Rajput, or 
Musalman, by a series of wars and alliances ; the Indian 
Empire, which at his accession was confined to the Punjab 
and the districts round Agra and Delhi, in a few years 
extended from the heart of Afghanistan southwards to 


Orissa and Sind ; only the South successfully defied Akbar 

I The magnificence of the Mughal Empire astounded Sir 
j Thomas Eoe when he arrived at its capital of Delhi early 
The Mughal ^^ ^^^ seventeenth century. Akbar, its sovereign, 
Empire. was not only a great soldier ; he was equally 
great as an administrator. A new system of government 
and revenue was introduced, whereof the latter continues 
in part to this day. Reforms were everywhere undertaken : 
the inhuman rites and customs of the Hindus were put down ; 
animal sacrifices, child-marriage, and trial by ordeal were 
abolished ; widow-burning was discouraged, although it 
could not be stamped out. 

In the Emperor's court there was a wise toleration. Akbar 
■ loved to gather round him professors of all the creeds ; and 
Jew, Christian, Musalman, Parsi, or sceptic each stated their 
belief, debating points of doctrine openly with one another. 
From their discussions Akbar himself evolved a new eclectic 
rehgion, which found as much acceptance as such schemes 
always do. 

It was an era of the most exquisite taste in the fine arts : 
■j Akbar and his successors enriched Delhi and Agra with the 
i purest gems of Indian architecture. The Taj Mahal is but 
'; the most perfect of a series of beautiful creations that have 
\ been unparalleled in oriental history. 

1 The Mughal Empire, in short, was the most imposing, as 
I it was perhaps the best, that India had yet known. Yet 
Its DecUne ^i^h all its splendour, that Empire was but as a 
, andFaU. house that is built on the sand. The death of 
5 its founder shook it severely ; the dissensions of his 
successors wrecked it altogether. The sons of Akbar 
rebelled against him and quarrelled among themselves ; 
Aurungzeb, the last great native monarch of India, marched 
to the throne through a sea of blood after deposing his father 
and murdering his brothers. 


He extended the authority of the Miighals into provinces 
that had never before acknowledged them. He subjugated 
much of Southern India, and proudly styled himself the ' con- 
queror of the universe.' His court was as brilhant and 
magnificent as that of Akbar. 

But corruption had eaten it through and through. The 
unending wars that had been necessary to his victories had 
in the long-run only enfeebled the army. The chief power 
of the South still defied him at his death in 1707. The 
tributary princes had always girded at his authority. The 
foundations of the Empire had altogether decayed, and the 
end of his reign of forty-eight years was the signal for a period 
of disastrous anarchy to begin in India, from which it was only 
rescued when the British became supreme. 

All through his reign the power of his rivals, the Marathas, 
had been increasing ; and when he spoke his last words, — 
' Come what may, I have launched my vessel on the waves ; 
farewell ! farewell ! farewell ! ' — they had already become 
a formidable confederacy, which proved able to withstand 
for over a century the continued onslaughts of the British. 

The break-up of the Mughal Empire was now quick, com- 
plete, and absolute. There was again a contest for the suc- 
cession. Three sovereigns in a few years were boys and mere 
puppets. Others were deposed and murdered. The Deccan 
declared its independence, Haidarabad broke away from the 
nominal control to which it had been subjected. The Punjab, 
one of the oldest provinces, was lost long before it finally 
forced itself free in 1751. 

The Mughal Empire continued indeed to exist for many 
years more. But it existed only in name, and the last 
occupants of the throne of Delhi were pensioners of the 
EngKsh, Uving lives of effeminate sloth and luxury in the 
seclusion of their palaces, protected indeed from harm or 
the resentment of their subjects, but powerless to influence 
by one act or word the destinies of that vast country which 


their ancestors had gloriously conquered, and had frequently- 
ruled with wisdom. 

Meanwhile India was devastated by invasions, and she was 
unable to repel them. The Sikhs alone were defeated ; but 
India the cruelties that were inflicted on them remained 

Invaded. burned into the memory of that warrior race for 
ever. Their leader was carried about in an iron cage, 
robed in mockery as an emperor with scarlet turban and 
cloth of gold. His son's heart was torn out before his eyes, 
and thrown in his face. He himself was pulled to pieces 
with red-hot pincers, and his followers were exterminated 
as though they had been dogs. But if in this case the enemy 
were defeated, the very victory was a disgrace to the people 
that won it, and a proof of the barbarity to which they had 
descended. A terrible retribution was to overtake them at 
the hands of others. 

In the year 1739 Nadir Shah invaded India from Persia ; 
and when he captured Delhi there was a frightful massacre 
in its streets, while the devoted city was given over to a 
plunder that lasted fifty-eight days. After the army retired, 
sated with excess, it was estimated that the booty they 
carried with them was of the value of thirty-two milUons 

More terrible even than this were the invasions that 
followed from Afghanistan. Six times in rapid succession 
the savage tribes beyond the River Indus descended on 
India, ravaging and slaughtering whithersoever they went, 
slaying the dwellers in lonely hamlets as well as in wealthy 
towns ; outraging the religious feelings of the Hindus by 
despoiling the shrines of the country ; murdering the votaries 
who worshipped at the holy places ; leaving ruin and despair 
around them on all sides. The border lands were swept bare 
of inhabitants, crops, and riches ; the settlers fled to the hills, 
to the jungles, to any hiding-place that offered, preferring 
rather to share the lairs of wild beasts than to face certain 


torture and death at the hands of the Afghans, In this 
dread catastrophe vanished the last vestige of the Mughal 

It seems almost a satire to say that few years in the 
history of the English East India Company had been quieter 
or more prosperous than those in which these TheEneiish 
awful events took place. From 1708, when the in India, 
two authorised corporations which had struggled ^'^°^"*^- 
for the Anglo-Indian trade were amalgamated, until after 
1745, when the great contest of the Europeans in India finally 
began, its records are practically devoid of interest. There 
was the frustration of a new project for an India Company 
in England in 1730. There was a gradual increase of sales in 
India until in the record year of 1744 they stood at nearly 
two milUons sterhng. A regular dividend of seven or eight 
per cent, was paid. An embassy was sent to the Mughal 
Emperor in 1715, which, having waited on him for two years, 
received various privileges, such as the right to purchase land 
and towns, and to pass goods through the imperial territories 
free of duty or inspection. A mission station was estab- 
lished at Madras in 1728. A dockyard was built at Bombay 
in 1736. An attack of the Marathas on Madras was repelled 
in 1741. In consequence, the forts of that settlement were 
enlarged and strengthened. Such were the commonplace 
matters that occupied the directors and servants of the 
East India Company while India itself was torn from end 
to end. 

Other nations had come and gone, as the struggle for 
oriental trade became keener. The vast Asiatic empire of 
the Portuguese was already destroyed. They other 
had been swept from the seas by the Dutch and Europeans 
the English. On land the perpetual attacks of "^ ^ ^^' 
the Dutch had reduced them to three wretched towns, 
Goa, Daman, and Diu, which contained nothing worth 
keeping, and which showed, in the words of Hunter, a mere 


miserable chronicle of pride, poverty, and high-sounding 
titles. The Portuguese had ever been crusaders rather than 
settlers or traders ; their cruelties caused them to be hated 
by the Hindus, while their business incapacity made them 
the laughing-stock of more commercial nations. There were 
few Portuguese of pure blood left in the East ; and their 
descendants were the Eurasian half-castes who are now 
hardly distinguishable from the native Indian stock.^ 

The Dutch had since become the leading power throughout 
the East, although their diminishing weight in Europe made 
it less likely that they would remain so in the future. It 
was not till 1758 that the knell of their existence on the 
Asiatic mainland was sounded by the English captming the 
Dutch settlement at Chinsurah ; but Holland still retained, 
and even extended, her power in the East Indian islands. 
The Danes formed an East India Company in 1612, and 
another in 1670 : but beyond founding a few small trading 
stations they did nothing in the East. The same causes 
that prevented Scandinavian development in America pre- 
vented it also in India.^ The merchants of Ostend, under 
the protection of the Emperor of Austria, had also formed 
an East India Company in 1723 ; but after a few years' 
commercial operations, it also perished. The Scots, too, had 
tried to compete in the race for oriental trade, but the 
company promoted by them in 1695 was a failure from 
its birth. Not a single Scottish enterprise that was pro- 
jected overseas before the union with England had any 
measure of success whatever, whether directed towards Nova 
Scotia, Panama, or India. 

But by far the most brilliant and successful of the European 

^ The Portuguese seem to have had no idea that miscegenation might 
have an evil effect on the dominant race. They allied themselves freely 
with the natives in India and South America, while Livingstone observed 
the same thing as a regular custom in South Africa. There is undoubtedly 
a strong alien strain in the blood of very many Portuguese families in 
Portugal at the present day. 

- See vol. i. book iii. chap. iv. 


powers in the East at this time was France, and the history 
of the efforts made by a few great men of that nation to 
found a French Empire in India has a tragic interest of its own. 

The early years of their connection with Asia contained 
nothing remarkable. The first French expedition thither 
was fitted out in 1503 by some Rouen merchants ; ^^^ French 
it sailed for the East, but nothing more was in India, 
heard of it. A century passed ; and in 1604 
the first French East India Company was formed. It also 
came to nothing. The second, in 1611, showed better results ; 
the third, inaugurated by RicheHeu in 1642, endeavoured 
to found a colony in Madagascar, and having failed in that, 
ceased operations. The next Company was formed in 1664 : 
it was encouraged by the king, who declared that oriental 
trade was not derogatory even to the nobility ; settlements 
were made in the islands of Mauritius and Bourbon, and in 
1668 the first factory was established at Surat. 

But for years the Company was almost uniformly unfor- 
tunate. Surat had to be abandoned. Pondicherri, which, 
founded in 1674, became the French headquarters in Asia, was 
taken by the Dutch in 1693. Even when the place was re- 
stored four years later, trade continued to languish. The 
Company quickly lost half its capital, and had not yet declared 
a dividend. It possessed neither ships nor money. The 
directors were forced to lease the right of making oriental 
voyages to the merchants of St. Malo. The rent of the Indian 
stations was frequently in arrear. The salaries due to the 
Company's servants were irregularly paid. 

In 1719, indeed, relief seemed at hand. The French East 
India Company was amalgamated with those trading to China 
and Senegal ; and under the guidance of Law, a young 
Scottish adventurer who endeavoured to restore order to the 
French national exchequer, the shares jumped to a premium. 
As great a rage for speculation suddenly sprang up in France 
as during the South Sea Bubble the next year in England. 


The merchants ahnost worshipped Law ; the nobility ran 
after him. ' A duchess kisses his hand/ reported the scandal- 
mongers of the day, ' how then will other women kiss 

But in a few months the entire project collapsed, and the 
Company was left in a worse position than before. It was 
Dupieix, now that the one man who might have secured 
1730. India for France appeared. Joseph Fran9ois 

Dupieix was appointed, through the influence of his 
father, first councillor at Pondicherri in 1720. From the 
moment of arrival his energetic nature infused fresh life into 
that unprosperous settlement. He stimulated the commerce 
of the Company, and by indulging in private trade on his own 
account, laid the foundations of the splendid fortune which 
within a few years was dissipated in too faithful service to his 
country's interests in Asia. The Enghsh merchants at the 
neighbouring station of Madras were wealthy but unenterpris- 
ing ; and Dupieix saw at once that Pondicherri might be made 
the emporium of the whole south of India. His exertions 
were fast succeeding when in 1726 the directors ordered his 
recall on a point of detail. He refused to return, and after 
four years of incessant wrangHng his appeal was allowed. 
Appointed intendant of Chandanagore, he again found a miser- 
able and stagnant French settlement a few miles from Calcutta, 
where the Enghsh trade was increasing every year. Again his 
spirit revolted against the poverty of his compatriots in the 
East. He embarked his private means, already great, in 
bringing trade to Chandanagore. He attracted the native 
merchants away from the rival European stations on the 
Hugh, and in four years the quays of the deserted settlement 
were teeming with goods ; a fleet of some forty vessels was 
soon regularly employed in the French trade ; relations were 
opened up wHth the interior, and even with Tibet. In 1741 
Dupieix was promoted to be Governor of Pondicherri. He 
was now supreme in the French Indies. 


At exactly what time lie began to evolve those schemes of 
conquest which so nearly gave the Empire of India to France 
instead of England cannot be decided. As a boy he had 
been of a speculative turn of mind, loathing commerce, but 
dehghting to indulge in day-dreams of aU sorts. To cure 
him, a prudent father had sent him to sea, and he returned 
apparently ready to become a good man of business. Such, 
indeed, he was ; but there is little doubt that the old specu- 
lative spirit had only been strengthened by what he had seen 
on his eastern voyage. In any case, even if it lay dormant 
during his early years in India, his imagination was at length 
fired by the magnificence of the opportunity which, with 
further knowledge, he saw presented itself to a resolute man 
of action. 

India was given over to anarchy. It might be ruined by 
the feuds of the native princes. It might, on the other hand, 
be conquered by any one of them who was strong enough 
to impose his will on the rest. But it was evident that the 
superiority of the European over the strongest native was at 
least as great as that of the strongest native over the weakest. 
A few thousand Europeans, possessed of European mihtary 
appHances and training, might have conquered the immense 
armies and clumsy artiUery even of the greatest Asiatic 
pjinces. They could certainly rout most of the petty chiefs 
with ease. By a judicious system of alliances, they could 
disarm the hostility of perhaps half India until it was too late 
to resist. Certainly no Western power had as yet succeeded 
in such a project. But the directors of the French East India 
Company at home could not be expected to realise its possi- 
bihty ; and those Europeans who had been in India hitherto 
were only stoUd and somewhat stupid traders Hke the Enghsh 
and the Dutch, or hot-headed knights-errant hke the Portu- 
guese. In any event, they were not strong enough in the 
seventeenth century, even had the Mughal power at that time 
not been in its prime, and even had the idea entered their heads. 



But in the eighteenth century France was the greatest 

mihtary power in the world. And her diplomacy had secured 

her victories as splendid as those which had been won by her 

arms. There was no ambitious project in which she might 

not hope for success. All the vast and magnificent countries 

of India lay within her grasp. The other traders from the 

West could be easily expelled ; or they might, with contemp- 

ftuous pity, be allowed to remain as simple merchants. The 

\French authority, once secure, could be exercised either openly 

lor secretly ; the French Governor-General might, if he chose, 

he Emperor of India in fact as well as in name ; or he might, 

/with all the essentials of command, still find it convenient to 

I yield a nominal allegiance as vassal to the puppet he had set 

%ip on the throne. 

Such, in substance, must have been the thoughts of Dupleix 
as supreme governor of the French Indies. Certain advan- 
tages he had already. He was possessed of a profound know- 
ledge of Indian native character, its love for panoply and 
display, its reverence for exterior form, its submission before 
authority. Able men had preceded him : for although the 
directors of the French East India Company had been ineffi- 
cient and inept to a degree, they had been served far better 
than they merited. 

The same thing, in fact, was taking place in India as in 
Canada. In the latter country the pioneers of France, scarcely 
assisted at all by the home authorities, were carrying the name 
and influence of their coimtry far into the great West. In 
India a series of wise governors, likewise unaided from Paris, 
often indeed acting directly contrary to the pusillanimous 
orders sent out from the capital, were estabhshing close and 
cordial relations with the natives. In the East as in the West, 
the French were the only European nation that realised the 
importance of a good understanding with the aboriginal in- 
habitants. The Portuguese tried to convert by force all whom 
they found ; the Dutch tyrannised everywhere they could ; 


the English kept aloof from everything but commerce. The 
French, on the other hand, whenever it was possible always 
treated the natives as friends, as allies, as equals. 

It is true that neither in Canada nor India did they possess 
any real stabiHty. They placed government before trade, 
the shadow before the substance ; and in the end they lost 
both. But the faults of their administration, grave as they 
were, might have been overcome, had it not been for the fatal 
corruption and neglect that prevailed in France. It is true 
that their rulers overseas, great as they were, all showed the 
same defect, in being jealous of each other, and in allowing 
the heart-burnings inevitable in every community to result 
in a lack of subordination and co-operation for the general 
good of the whole. That also need not necessarily have ruined 
them. It was the combination of both causes that reduced 
the French, from the nucleus of a splendid empire both in 
America and Asia, to a few wretched islands in the one, and 
an insignificant township in the other. 

When Dupleix was appointed Governor of Pondicherri, the 
French were already practically the masters of the south | 
Coromandel coast, and their influence extended far into the 
Kama tic. He quickly put the older settlement in order, and 
returned to Chandanagore, to be installed there as Nawab of 
that place. Returning to Pondicherri, he used his new title 
as a means of overawing the neighbouring chieftains ; his 
magnificence dazzled them, and he was soon recognised as 
sovereign of the South. 

But the clouds of approaching war were now gathering with 
England in Europe ; and war with England in Europe meant 
also war with England in Asia. Yet the directors of the French 
East India Company wrote that expenses must be reduced 
by at least one half, and that all outlay on buildings and forti- 
fications must be stopped. To obey would have been to 
leave Pondicherri defenceless and open to the first attack of the 
Enghsh. The order, however, was exphcit, and in any event 


communication with Em^ope was too slow to get it counter- 
manded in time, if indeed the timorous directors had dared to 
do so. Dupleix, therefore, at once undertook to pay for the 
entire fortification of the place out of his own pocket ; at the 
same time economising within the settlement as much as 
possible by reducing salaries, and putting down those few 
abuses which still remained. The directors were glad to see 
their work done at the expense of another, although it involved 
disobedience to their orders ; they sent word that they were 
' very much pleased ' with their governor in the East : a com- 
pliment which doubtless was still a source of gratification to 
Dupleix when their stupidity a few years later ruined both 
themselves and him. 

But war had by now broken out, and he was left to defend 
Pondicherri with but 436 men in the garrison, one small war- 
War between ^^^P' ^^^ great defensive works yet unfinished, 
England and and no prospect of further succour from Europe. 
France, 1744. ^^ appeal was made to the British at Madras 
to exclude Asia from the sphere of hostihties ; but they 
would have none of it. The two nations had certainly 
traded side by side for over half a century without a colHsion ; 
but the British had seen with alarm the rising star of Dupleix, 
and though they had formed no definite plans of resistance, 
they knew that one of their naval squadrons was saihng for 
the East, and was even now destroying French commerce on 
the way. 

Dupleix had foreseen the refusal, and he at once prepared 
to obtain assistance from the native chiefs. Appeal was also 
made to Labourdonnais, Governor of the French colony at 
Bourbon. Here again the French administration at Paris 
displayed its incapacity. Still believing that the war would 
be confined to Europe, it had refused the latter permission to 
send his forces to India, and rendered it impossible by recall- 
ing his fleet. In some respects a man of the same tempera- 
ment as Dupleix, he disobeyed ; and, having improvised a 


fleet of his own by commandeering every foreign vessel that 
put in at Bourbon, he set sail for India with his small garrison. 
After being nearly wrecked by the monsoon, he arrived o£E 
Pondicherri, drove away the EngKsh squadron which was 
about to attack that place, and saved the capital of the French 

Only one pohcy was now possible. Either the Enghsh 
must drive the French out of Pondicherri, or the French must 
drive the Enghsh out of Madras ; and both Dupleix and Labour- 
donnais were determined that it should be the latter. Dupleix 
thought it ' very easy ' to do so ; and he was probably well 
informed as to the weakness of the Enghsh position in 
Madras, where Fort St. George was in no condition to resist 
him, the whole garrison consisting only of 300 men, of whom 
34 were Portuguese or negroes, and 70 more were unfit for 
duty ; while the officers were three lieutenants, of whom two 
were foreigners, and seven ensigns who had risen from the 

Labourdonnais was equally anxious to capture the place ; 
but the fear that the British fleet he had recently dispersed 
would return and take him at a disadvantage made him hesi- 
tate. He had, as it proved, no reason to fear ; but the tradi- 
tion of our success at sea here stood us in good stead, as it has 
so often done elsewhere. 

Eventually Madras was besieged on 15th September 1746 ; 
-and after six days it ' surrendered with precipitation,' to 
quote from the letter in which Labourdonnais xhe Loss 
announced the capitulation to Dupleix. The of Madras, 
latter rightly wished to press the advantage to the utter- 
most, by at once attacking the other English stations in 
India, and expelhng his rivals altogether ; but a host of 
difficulties now arose. Labourdonnais was jealous of the 
authority of Dupleix, and would obey neither appeals nor 
commands ; he had already listened to the suggestions of a / 
ransom, and he fell before the offer of a bribe from the English 


Governor of Madras. With insane treachery, he agreed to 
restore the city, 

Dupleix was furious, but he could do nothing, for he was 
involved in a dispute with the local Nawab from whom both 
Pondicherri and Madras were leased. That prince had re- 
strained the Enghsh from attacking the French two years 
before ; on an appeal from Madras, he had half-promised 
to protect the English against their enemies : and nothing 
would appease him for the violation of the neutrality which 
all Europeans were supposed to preserve in foreign lands. 

In this perplexity, Dupleix, ready to do anything rather 
than restore Madras to the Enghsh, assured the Nawab that 
it had been conquered in order to present it to him. Still 
Isuspicious at such unwonted generosity, the native ruler 
[waited on events ; but seeing the French flag continue to fly 
I over Madras, as Labourdonnais haggled about ransom and a 
I personal bribe, he at last refused to beheve, and came to the 
I conclusion that he had been doubly duped. 
I Another disaster now ensued. The French fleet was driven 
sout to sea and wrecked by the monsoon ; while with the few 
I shattered vessels that alone were rescued Labourdonnais 
f returned to Bourbon. 

' It is probable that Dupleix did not regret the loss of so 
sorry an auxihary : but with him he lost likewise all those 
reinforcements to whom he owed not only the capture of 
Madras, but also the defence of Pondicherri against the British 
fleet. And at the same time, more ill news arrived. Des- 
patches from Europe announced that war with Holland was 
imminent ; the Dutch therefore would soon be added to the 
number of his foes. The patience of the Nawab, too, was 
exhausted, and he marched to attack the French, who were 
still in Madras. 

A painful dilemma now confronted Dupleix. Should he 
restore the city to the English, or resign it to the Indian ? 
The latter course was preferable, but there was still another 


alternative, and on that Dupleix decided. He determined 
to repudiate the arrangement which Labom'donnais had made 
with the English, and so dismiss them from India, thus keep- 
ing Madras in his own hands, while risking a rupture with the 

So far as the native prince was concerned, the matter was 
quickly settled. The French and Indian troops came into 
conflict on 4th November 1746 ; but after a few rounds of 
artillery had been fired the natives fled in confusion. From 
that day the Nawab submitted to Dupleix, and not Dupleix to 
the Nawab. Never before in modern times had the superiority 
of European over Asiatic troops been so plainly demonstrated ; 
since then it has seldom been questioned in India. 

The battle, which took place at St. Thome before Madras, 
relieved Dupleix of his more pressing anxieties : he proclaimed 
Madras a French possession by right of conquest ; and the 
English, protesting loudly at the breach of faith, were forced 
to abandon the Presidency. 

It was certainly unfortunate for our people that the bribe 
accepted by Labourdonnais had been wasted to no purpose ; 
but Dupleix could not be expected to recognise the corrupt 
bargain of a subordinate at a critical stage in the struggle 
for India. Himself the soul of honour in his dealings with 
Europeans — he followed, as did everybody in that age, a 
different course when negotiating with Asiatics — he was not 
bound to compromise France because one of her sons had 
failed her in the hour of need. The EngUsh prisoners were 
marched to Pondicherri, and thence they were to be sent to 
Europe ; but some escaped to Fort St. David, an English pos- 
session south of the French capital, and at that time our sole 
remaining station on the Coromandel coast. 

Dupleix, determined to be supreme in that part of India, 
decided to drive us from our last refuge. Had he acted at 
once, victory should not have been difiicult. Our garrison 
was 300 men, with 1000 native irregulars. The alliance to 


which we had agreed with the Nawab since his rupture with 
the French was not of much value. There were no signs of 
succour by sea, except for some twenty men landed by a 
passing merchant vessel. Our people, too, were depressed by 
their late losses and lack of success, and awed by the con- 
spicuous greatness of Dupleix. 

But there was one vulnerable point in the French Governor's 
armour, and that the Nawab discovered by accident. He 
was an administrator, a pohtician, a merchant, a ruler ; but 
he was not a soldier. He was forced to rely for his victories 
on the fragments of an army which he possessed : and when 
he wished to entrust the attack on Fort St. David to Paradis, ' 
the young officer who had routed the Nawab at St. Thome, 
the whole service protested at the disregard of the rules of 
seniority. A further argument was found in the fact that 
Paradis was a Swiss ; and Dupleix gave way for the moment. 
The command was given to an old and incompetent general, 
who allowed himself to be attacked unexpectedly and defeated 
by the Nawab at the outset of the campaign. 

Angry at the loss, Dupleix appealed to the patriotism of 
the army, and Paradis was at last appointed to lead. But 
meanwhile over two months had been lost, and in that time 
the defences of Fort St. George had been strengthened. In 
better condition to resist the enemy, fortune seemed also to 
turn in our favour. At the moment that the fort was attacked 
an Enghsh squadron arrived from Calcutta, and the French 
were repulsed. 

It was now the turn of Pondicherri to be on the defensive. 
Once again the advantage given by sea-power was proved, for 
Dupleix was imable to prosecute his schemes further : indeed, 
had it not been for his energy and ability, and a knowledge of 
defence which he attributed chiefly to his early love of mathe- 
matics, it is probable that the French Empire in India would 
have fallen there and then. Judging from the unskilful, dila- 
tory, and jejune tactics which the majority of his countrymen 


displayed during the next few critical years, it seems certain 
that the days of Pondicherri under French rule would have 
been few without the inspiring presence of Dupleix. As it 
was, the English were repulsed, and retired in dejection. It 
appeared hopeless to fight against the genius of this man. 

It was now the end of the year 1748. The war had dragged 
out its weary length in Europe, devoid of interest or important 
consequences. Every nation was sick of a struggle The Peace 
that led nowhere, and the Treaty of Aix-la- of 1748. 
Chapelle brought about a peace that was in fact only a tem- 
porary truce. A mutual restitution of conquests was agreed 
upon ; and Cape Breton, an island that the British Government 
considered of little importance, on one side of the world, was 
exchanged for Madras, potentially at least of enormous value, 
on the other. The whole work of Dupleix was thus cancelled 
at a stroke ; but, at least, he had the supreme pleasure . 
of being complimented by his employers for the services he 
had rendered. ' If,' said the directors of the French East 
India Company, ' all his other achievements merited the 
thanks of the France he had served so well, his last crowning \ 
success of saving Pondicherri placed him beyond the reach ; 
of ordinary applause.' i 

With peace secured, it was hoped by both the Enghsh and | 
French East India Companies that unaggressive trade in Asia \ 
would continue as of old. Little did they know their servants 
in the East ; little did they reahse the conditions prevailing 
there. As in America, so it was during these years in India : 
there was not room for the two nations to exist together. 

The next three years were those in which the power of France 
was at its zenith in India. The brilliant victories of Bussy 
m the Deccan consoHdated French influence in The zenith 
the interior. The vigorous poHcy of Dupleix power 
at Pondicherri gave France the empire of the 1748-51. 
whole South. His puppet was placed on the throne of 
the Karnatic. His authority was soon supreme over thirty- 



five millions of natives. The city of Dupleix-futtah-abad — 
the City of the Victory of Dupleix — began to rise, as a 
memorial of his past actions, and as a menace to those who 
might venture to oppose him in the future. 

Meanwhile the Enghsh were dispirited and unsuccessful. 
They, too, attempted to form political alhances with the 
natives, and endeavoured to imitate Dupleix in setting up 
their own candidates on Indian thrones ; but it was to no 
purpose. They did not yet understand the game which they 
afterwards played with such consummate skill. 

Through the genius of one man, the French seemed thus 
about to sweep all before them in India. Yet the dechne of 
their power was at hand ; and its decline was as rapid as its 
rise. No more help arrived from France, since the French 
East India Company could not see the need of any. Practi- 
cally all the expenses of the forward policy in India were 
paid out of the private purse of Dupleix. The one act of 
assistance to which the directors condescended went astray ; 
a vessel containing reinforcements of 700 men was burnt at 
sea. The Company became more and more distrustful of 
its energetic representative in the East, for he was forsak- 
ing the peaceful pursuits of trade for the dangers of empire : 
instead of concentrating all his attention on the buying of 
silks and spices, he was straying into schemes that a Caesar 
or an Alexander might devise. As he paid for his vagaries 
himself, the directors had patience yet a Httle while ; but 
they were suspicious of him, as only the ignorant and stupid 
can be of the far-seeing and wise, for years before his ultimate 
recall and final betrayal. 

India was at this time the land of meteoric careers, as 
America and South Africa became at a later day ; but the star 
ciive, that was now rising in the East was not French. 

1725-74. Robert CHve was the son of a small Enghsh 
landowner near Market Drayton in Shropshire. Born on 
29th September 1725, he was in his earlier years far from a 


favourite of fortune. Passionate and wayward in his youth, 
looked on as a booby by his father, but as a plague by the local 
townspeople, from whom he levied a tribute of halfpence in con- 
sideration of not breaking their windows, lazy in school and a 
scapegrace out of it, young Chve seemed destined to become 
a ne'er-do-weel. ' Fighting," said an uncle, ' to which he is 
out of measure addicted, gives his temper such a fierceness 
and imperiousness, that he flies out on every trifling occa- 
sion ' ; and soon he was renowned as the daredevil of the 
county. Once he chmbed to the top of the lofty steeple of 
Market Drayton Church, and seated himself on the stone spout 
near the summit, to the terror of the onlookers. 

There was nothing to be done at home with such a boy ; 
and his family gladly accepted a writership for him in the 
service of the East India Company. He arrived at Madras 
in 1743 ; but his first months in the East were uniformly 
miserable. ' I have not enjoyed,' he wrote, ' one happy day 
since I left my native country. ... I must confess when 
I think of my dear native England, it affects me in a very 
particular manner ... if I should be so far blest as to revisit 
again my own country, but more especially Manchester, the 
centre of all my wishes, all that I could hope or desire for 
would be presented before me in one view.' 

Nor was Chve reconciled to exile after the first attack of 
home-sickness had spent its force. He had no friends, and 
was too proud to make the first advances to anybody. The 
few people he knew were card-room acquaintances, and with 
them he was always quarrelling and duelhng. Twice he tried 
to shoot himself, and it was only when the pistol would not 
fire that he threw it away, swearing that after all he was 
reserved for something great. 

But as a clerk in the Company's office at Madras he would 
assuredly not have accomphshed much. Had he been com- 
pelled to remain a trader, he might have thrown up his berth 
in disgust — several times he nearly did so — or committed 


suicide ; or he might, after some years of discontent and 
chafing against routine, have settled dovm into the usual 
type of eighteenth-century Anglo-Indian, occupied with petty 
commercial details, and enriching himself privately in the 
intervals of attending to the Company's business. Of the 
two, the former seems the more hkely. 

But fortunately for CUve, his lot was cast in more stirring 
times. Madras, the station at which he was employed, was 
The Capture ^^^en by Labourdonnais ; and he, with many 
of Arcot, others of the colony, escaped to Fort St. David. 
The opportunity had almost come ; Clive asked 
and obtained his commission as ensign in the army of the 
Company. But the conclusion of peace found him back 
at his desk ; again he left it to assist in quelling some 
native disturbances ; again he returned to business. By 
now, however, the French were extending their Empire 
throughout India. The Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle only enlarged 
the scope of their operations. Both the ambition of Dupleix 
and the abihty of Bussy were fully recognised at Madras ; but 
timid counsels prevailed when measures of reprisal were sug- 
gested. Hitherto the British had remained feebly on the 
defensive, setting their native puppet against the French 
native puppet, giving him honour as the French gave honour, 
calling him monarch of Southern India as the French called 
theirs also. But the man whom the British had chosen to 
recognise as such had by now no authority beyond Trichin- 
opoli, and it seemed improbable that he would possess even 
that for long, whereas the French nominee was saluted every- 
where else as rightful ruler. 

Chve saw that a sudden and daring blow was necessary, 
if his countrymen were not to lose all power in the East ; and, 
as captain and commissary to the troops, he determined to 
carry the war into the enemy's country by attacking Arcot. 
At the head of 200 English and 300 natives, he marched 
through wild storms to that fortress ; the garrison, taken by 


surprise, evacuated it without a blow. This, however, was 
little ; Clive knew that he would have to undergo a siege, as 
soon as the news reached the French or Chunda Sahib, their 
Indian ally. 

Such preparations as were possible he made ; but an army 
of 10,000 Indians, backed by 150 French, was soon upon him. 
Arcot was in no good condition to resist. The walls were in 
ruins, the ditches were dry, the ramparts too small to carry 
guns, the battlements too low to protect the soldiers. Pro- 
visions were scanty. Casualties had thinned the garrison ; 
its total number was but 120 Eiiropeans and 200 sepoys. Its 
commander was only twenty-five years old, and he had had 
no miHtary education. 

But Chve, in the phrase of Pitt, was ' a heaven-born general/ 
He was able to inspire confidence and unity among his men, 
albeit they were of different races and creeds ; an anecdote 
that has been preserved of the siege shows better than any 
description of their hardships in what spirit they fought. The 
sepoys came to CHve, not in order to complain of their scanty 
rations, but to suggest that all the grain in the place should 
be given to the Europeans, who required more nourishment 
than Asiatics. The thin gruel, they said, which was strained 
away from the rice, would be enough for themselves. Of 
such stuff are victories fashioned. 

The son of Chunda Sahib, who was conducting the attack, 
learned that a body of Marathas, half-soldiers, half-robbers, 
had been hired to march to the relief of Arcot. He negoti- 
ated ; he offered bribes, which were scornfully rejected ; 
he threatened to storm the fort, and to put every man 
within it to the sword. Clive answered coolly that his 
father was a usurper, that his army was a rabble, and that 
he had better think twice before he sent cowards to attack 
a breach defended by EngHsh soldiers. 

Stung to fury, the young Indian determined to storm the 
fort. Elephants whose foreheads were armed with iron plates 


were put in the van ; and against a native army they might 
have availed. But European musketry forced them back in 
terror, and they trampled on the army behind. In spite of 
this misfortune, valiant efforts were made to carry a breach 
in the walls. But after three onslaughts, it was given up ; and 
night fell, leaving the defenders anxiously expecting another 
attack. Next morning, however, the assailants had decamped, 
and the first great English victory in India was won. 

The authorities at Madras were overjoyed, as well they 
might be. Further successes followed ; the ' City of the 
Victory of Dupleix ' was rased to the ground, and the monu- 
ment which commemorated those victories destroyed. 

The spell of French success was thus broken ; and Dupleix, 
though he struggled valiantly against misfortune, though he 
was never greater than now, when he was playing a losing 
game, was yet a beaten man from the day that Olive took 
Arcot. That day sounded the knell of French Asiatic power : 
it saw the beginning of the present British Empire of India. 

The story of the decline of France is quickly told ; its 
pathos will move men of every nation, as we follow to their 
last sad end the lives of Labourdonnais, Dupleix, Bussy, and 

The French East India Company longed above all things 
for peace in the East, not realising that peace could only 
The Fall come when they or the English had been expelled : 
orienui ^^^ ^^ ^^® maintenance of peace all their ends 
Power. were directed. So anxiously did they desire 

it, indeed, that they took counsel of their rivals in 
London, the English East India Company. The reply from 
Leadenhall Street naturally attributed all the evils of strife 
to Dupleix. It sounds incredible, but this decided the French 
on his recall. On 2nd August 1754, the order to return arrived 
at Pondicherri ; ten weeks later he sailed for Europe, being 
followed sorrowfully to the place of embarkation by the 
whole French colony. His fortune was gone, for the new 


Governor of the French Indies dishonestly refused to recog- 
nise the enormous sums owing to Dupleix by the Company. 
Nor did he or his family ever receive any satisfaction from 
his late employers in Europe. He was at first welcomed 
cordially enough at Paris, since it was thought he might be 
useful : but soon he was neglected, and allowed to languish 
in great poverty ; and thus he lingered nine years until his 
death in broken-hearted despair, his misery a standing re- 
proach for all time to the ingratitude of the last corrupt period 
of the French monarchy. The final words he wrote, com- 
posed three days before he died on 10th November 1764, reflect 
poignantly the bitterness of his spirit. ' I have sacrificed,' he 
declared, ' my youth, my fortune, my life, to enrich my nation 
in Asia. Unfortunate friends, too weak relations, devoted all 
their property to the success of my projects. They are now in 
misery and want. I have submitted to all the judiciary forms. 
I have demanded, as the last of the creditors, that which is 
due to me. My services are treated as fables. My request 
is denounced as ridiculous. I am used as the vilest of man- 
kind. I am in the most deplorable indigence ; the httle 
property that remained to me has been seized. I am com- 
pelled to ask for decrees for delay in order not to be cast into 

The end of Labourdonnais was as tragic. Recalled after 
his failure in India, he was thrown into the Bastille ; not 
indeed for his failure, but rather because he had rendered 
brilhant services to his country in Bourbon. He was even- 
tually released ; but the cruel confinement had undermined 
his health and broken his spirit, and he died shortly after- 
wards, in 1753. 

Bussy returned after some years to India ; but, being 
without support, he was naturally without success ; and he 
too died with neither wealth nor reputation. Lally, the last 
of the great Frenchmen in the East, who defended Pondi- 
cherri in its dechning years against the final assaults of the 


English, was also condemned to death on his return home, 
and executed in 1766. 

There were no others, nor could there be. There is a hmit 
beyond which men cannot sacrifice themselves for their 
country. That limit is evidently not reached when simple 
ingratitude and neglect is the reward of their life-work, or 
the Empire of England w-ould not have been standing to-day ; 
for few of those who built it have had their labours recog- 
nised before their death, and not all have had them recog- 
nised after. But when neglect passes into malignance, when 
reproaches are added to ingratitude, when confiscation of 
personal property, imprisonment, and execution are added 
to these : then indeed is the nation that can so reward its 
heroes in danger of losing all that they have gained for it. The 
supply of empire-builders is not unlimited, and they cannot 
be produced at will ; when steps are designedly taken to 
exterminate them, as was the case in France in the eighteenth 
century, it may safely be predicted that neither they nor 
the empire will long survive. 

Pondicherri was taken from France on 1st January 1761 ; 
and although it was restored at the Peace of Paris two years 
later, it never rose again to the same height as under Dupleix. 
The great Governor of the French in India had against him, 
in the words of one of the national historians, ' that crime 
of genius which so many have expiated by misery, by exile, 
and by death ' ; and when it had thrown away its most 
brilliant servant, the French East India Company could not 
long continue to exist. It was dissolved in 1769. Through 
ignorance and incapacity it had lost an empire. 

But the path of Clive after the victory of Arcot was far 
Further from clear. The other English residents in 
English India, though pleased at his success, were unable 


in Southern ^o follow it up. Not until his old chief. Major 
India. Lawrence, arrived again from home was much 

progress made. Clive might have retained the command 


had he chosen ; but with rare tact and discretion, he 
resigned it to the older officer. The two worked well together ; 
each appreciated the other's abilities ; and one of the most 
pleasing episodes in the life of Clive was the delicacy 
with which, when flushed with triumph, and the directors of 
the Company presented him with a sword set in diamonds, 
he refused to accept it unless a similar compliment was paid 
to his old commander. 

Everywhere the two now conquered. The southern coasts 
of India, from being practically a French possession, became 
Enghsh. But Clive had by this time been nearly ten years 
in the East ; and after one last victorious expedition against 
two French forts, in which he commanded an army that he 
had first had to train, an army composed of 500 raw sepoys and 
200 recruits seized from the hells of London, an army which 
ran away whenever a soldier was killed, and one of whose 
number took refuge for hours at the bottom of a well when 
a gun burst : after this exploit, his health compelled him to 
return to England. 

But with his departure from the scene of action things 
soon relapsed into their former state. The merchants of 
Madras were satisfied to be nothing more than merchants ; 
the military went to sleep ; diplomatic relations with the 
native courts were neglected altogether. 

It was at Calcutta, however, that the next danger to the 
East India Company arose. At that settlement — it was 
hardly yet worthy the name of town — our merchants had 
never intended to be anything but commercial men. Their 
most warlike occupation had been to cut prices and to kill com- 
petition. They had had no conflicts with natives or Europeans. 
They had no reason to suspect any menace to their existence. 
The neighbouring French settlement at Chandanagore now 
contained no restless Dupleix ; and experience showed that 
such a man, had he existed, would have been recalled by 
France before he could do much damage to her enemies. The 



Dutch were settled further up the Hugh at Chinsurah. Be- 
tween them and the English had been waged many a bitter 
war for the right to trade ; but those days were past, and 
both Enghsh and Dutch could hold their own at the peace- 
ful business that now engrossed them. Nor did there appear 
to be any ground for fearing native hostihty. The tribute 
agreed upon was paid punctually to the Nawab, and it formed 
a not inconsiderable part of his revenue. He would not, it 
seemed certain, be so foolish as to deprive himself of that. 

But no Europeans save the French knew the workings of 
the native mind ; and even the French would have been at 
suraja ^^ult with Suraja Dowlah. Succeeding his grand- 

Dowiah. father as Viceroy of Bengal in 1756, at the age 
of less than twenty years, he had hated the English from 
the first. It is not apparent what, if any, ground he had 
for his hatred ; possibly it was simply a general feeling against 
all strangers of another race within his dominions, a pheno- 
menon that has frequently been seen in others since his time. 
Be that as it may, he hated the English ; and he was an 
autocrat. No native dared oppose his desires ; no European 
understood what those desires were. He wished to expel 
the merchants of the East India Company ; and to do so a 
quarrel was necessary. But pretexts for a rupture are never 
difficult when the rupture itself is decided on : and in this 
case one was found in the fact that, in expectation of another 
war with France, the English settlements had been fortified 
without special permission having been obtained from the 
Nawab. In addition to this, a rich native, hearing that the 
Nawab desired to plunder him, had taken refuge in Calcutta, 
and was not given up when demanded. 

The two pretexts sufficed. Suraja Dowlah marched with 
a large army against Fort Wilham, Calcutta. The Governor 
fled. The military commander of the place followed a safe 
example, and fled hkewise. Those who were left in the fort 
resisted feebly ; but in a short time it was taken, and the 


Nawab summoned the English prisoners of war before him 
in the chief hall of the East India Company's factory. He 
spoke abusively of their insolence, and grumbled at the small 
amount of treasure that was found. By a gracious after- 
thought, however, he promised to spare the Uves of his cap- 
tives, and retired to rest. 

It was the 20th June 1756, the night which is immortalised 
in our history by the infamous memory of ' the Black Hole 
of Calcutta.' There were 146 prisoners, and they The Black 
were in high spirits, for they had the word of a ^°}^ °^ 

-t • > -1-1 C3(lCU.tlX£lj 

prince that their lives would be spared. It is 1756. 
true that Asiatic duplicity was a proverb, but nobody 
could beHeve that in such a matter the Viceroy of Bengal 
would dehver helpless prisoners to destruction. The captives 
were in charge of the Nawab's guards, and these deter- 
mined to secure them during the night in the garrison prison, 
known by the awful name of the Black Hole. 

It was only twenty feet square. Such ventilation as there 
was came through small and obstructed air-holes. At any time 
it would have been an uncomfortable confinement for one 
person. In any country it would have been unhealthy to 
have shut up many persons there for a single night. But in 
the middle of the summer, in a tropical country, to confine 
146 persons, of various ages and of both sexes, in such a place, 
was not merely to commit murder in cold blood, but to com- 
mit it in as cruel a manner as was possible, and to the accom- 
paniment of fiendish torture such as no mind not utterly 
vicious could have suggested to itself. 

The guards ordered the prisoners to enter ; and at first 
the English laughed at the absurdity of the idea. But it 
was soon found to be a command that was intended to be 
obeyed. The prisoners expostulated and entreated. It was 
without efiect ; the guards threatened to cut down all who 
hesitated, and drove their captives into the cell. The door 
was shut and locked. 


Immediately the tightly-packed mass of humanity began 
to struggle, to scream, to fight for air. Vain attempts were 
made to burst the door, to bribe the gaolers. But it was as 
impossible to move the one as the other. The soldiers answered 
that nothing could be done without the Nawab's orders, that 
he was asleep, that he would be angry if anybody woke him. 

The terror of the prisoners increased. They trampled on 
one another. They fought for places at the small gratings 
which served for windows, throu^gh which a little air came, 
and through which the guards with cruel mercy passed a 
little water to their captives. 

They raved, they prayed, they blasphemed. Some asked 
the guards to fire among them, and so to end their sufferings. 
But the spectacle was too amusing for the gaolers to bring 
it unnecessarily to a close. They held lights to the bars of 
the Black Hole, and laughed at the fearful struggle within. . . . 

Towards morning it became almost calm. The shouting 
gave way to low moans and gasps. From many there was 
no more sound at all. As the day broke, the Nawab roused 
himself, and gave orders that the door might be opened. 

There were twenty-three survivors, of whom one was a 
woman. Weak and staggering, they could not find a way 
out among the corpses of their late companions. The soldiers 
had to pile up the dead on either side before the hving could 
emerge. The corpses were already showing signs of decay ; 
a pit was dug, and they were thrown in and covered up 
without ceremony. 

The survivors were brought before the Nawab. There 
were some from whom nothing was to be got ; these were 
allowed to depart ^vithout further injury. The woman was 
placed in a harem. But those whom the Nawab thought 
might have treasure concealed, the richer members of the 
English settlement whom it might be worth his while to 
plunder, were sent up country in irons, lodged in sheds, and 
fed only with grain and water till they should confess. It 


was only the pleadings of Sura j a Dowlah's womenfolk that 
procured their release. 

The native guards were neither punished nor reprimanded. 
The Nawab was proud of his work and sent letters to the 
nominal Emperor at Delhi vaunting his glorious victory, in 
memory of which the name of Calcutta was to be changed 
to Ahnagur, the Port of God. There can be no doubt that 
the whole massacre was directly ordered by him ; and the 
wretched being, to whom cruelty for cruelty's sake was the 
spice of hfe, thought he had done well in extirpating the 
English from his dominions. 

For a time there was no retribution ; news travelled slowly 
in those days, and punitive expeditions were not easy to 
organise. But the Nawab soon began to feel the want of 
those whom he had expelled, for his revenues diminished 
rapidly. He was considering whether his dignity would allow 
the East India Company to return to its old station, when a 
different aspect of the affair was brought to his notice. 

The news of the massacre reached Madras in August 1756. 
There was an instant cry for vengeance. It was no time 
for weighing justice with even hand ; a deed so savage pro- 
voked feelings as savage among the Enghsh. 

Fortunately Clive had just returned from Europe, and 
within forty-eight hours of the news of the Black Hole becom- 
ing known it was determined that an expedition THe 
led by him should be sent against Suraja Dowlah. Revenge. 
In October it sailed ; in December it anchored in the Hugh. 
The Nawab was at Murshidabad, more than a hundred miles 
further up the river. When he was told of the force that 
was coming against him, he laughed in derision. His ignor- 
ance was as great as his cruelty ; and he, who refused to 
believe that there were ten thousand men in all Europe, 
scouted the idea that an enemy should dare to invade his 

But Clive quickly recovered Calcutta, routed the garri- 


sons near, and stormed and sacked the neighbouring towns. 
The Nawab began to be perturbed ; although he had an 
enormous army, and the whole force of his opponents was 
but 900 British infantry and 1500 sepoys, he offered to come 
to terms. He was prepared to restore the factory, and to give 
compensation for the injuries he had caused. 

Negotiations were opened. It was proved a month or 
two later that the British troops were able to defeat those 
of Sura j a Dowlah : but the agents of the East India Com- 
pany, who had been expelled from Calcutta, were anxious 
to start business operations there again ; and the news that 
war had broken out once more between England and France 
made the government of Madras anxious for the return of 
their army. Clive had hitherto been a soldier pure and 
simple ; from what has been said of him it may be imagined 
that he had no talents as a diplomatist, and no incHnation 
towards that profession ; and he disliked the thought of treat- 
ing with a murderer. But the reasons which induced him to 
treat instead of to fight were cogent ; and his success was as 
great as a statesman as it had been as a commander. In the 
first instance he had little to do with the negotiations, which 
were carried on between Watts, a servant of the Company, 
and Omichund, a wealthy Bengali, the agent of the Nawab. 

But Sura j a Dowlah was as fickle as he was feeble. He 
advanced to threaten Calcutta ; the moment he did so he 
regretted the step, fell back, and consented to make peace 
on whatever terms the EngUsh might lay down. Before 
these terms could be put in writing he intrigued with the 
French at Chandanagore, and invited them to drive the 
EngHsh out of Bengal. His treachery was known both to 
Clive and Watson, the admiral accompanying the expedition ; 
and they at once determined on a bold stroke. They stormed 
and took Chandanagore, and all the property and persons of 
the chief French establishment in Bengal fell into their hands. 

The Nawab was helpless ; but he continued to vacillate. 


Again he sent an abject submission, and a large sum as 
compensation. Immediately afterwards he asked the French 
leader, Bussy, to hasten from the Deccan to his protection. 

His people were disgusted at his folly, and alarmed at 
the danger to which it exposed them. A plot was hatched 
to dethrone the miserable Viceroy of Bengal, and it was 
communicated to the committee that was now directing 
EngHsh affairs at Calcutta, It was neither accepted nor 
rejected until Chve expressed his approval in vigorous terms ; 
from that moment its execution was decided upon. Suraja 
Dowlah was to be deposed, and Mir Jafiir, Commander- 
General of the Bengali army, was to reign in his stead. In 
return for the active assistance of the British, liberal com- 
pensation and gifts were to be given to the Company and 
its servants. 

But Suraja Dowlah was suspicious. Clive, however, was 
equal to the occasion. He wrote in affectionate terms to 
the Nawab, calming his fears ; and by the same courier he 
sent a letter telling Mir Jaffir to fear nothing, assuring him 
that he would march to his aid ' with five thousand men 
who never turned their backs.' Omichund was also in the 
plot, and was likewise to receive his reward. But he was 
not satisfied, and he demanded £300,000 sterling as the price 
of his fidelity. If it were not given, he declared that he 
would betray the whole plot to his master — that master 
whom he had already betrayed. 

Again Clive was equal to the occasion. The EngHsh 
committee hesitated, but Clive determined to play off the 
arts of the Bengali intriguer against himself. Omichund 
would not be content unless an article guaranteeing the 
enormous sum he had named was inserted in the treaty 
between Mir Jaffir and' the EngHsh ; and he insisted on 
seeing it with his own eyes. Two treaties were therefore 
drawn up, one on white, the other on red paper. The 
former was the genuine treaty, and mentioned nothing of 


. Omicliund : the latter, whicli was a worthless document 
only intended to deceive him, contained an article promising 
the fulfilment of his demands. But Watson could not bring 
himself to so degrading an action ; and once more the plot 
was imperilled. Clive at once forged the admirars name, 
and Omichund was convinced. The conspiracy was put in 

Into the right or wrong of Olive's action in this affair it 
is scarcely necessary to enter. He was deahng with un- 
scrupulous men, and he became unscrupulous himself. In 
a country where deception was a commonplace of everyday 
life, he deceived even Asiatics at their own game. His 
dissimulation has been perhaps excessively blamed by those 
critics who have never been themselves placed in a difficult 
position, and who affect to judge all things by the canons of 
morality which should prevail in Europe. To men who are 
playing for a big stake allowances must be made, and the 
standard of ordinary conduct has occasionally to be relaxed. 
But for all that, and making every concession that it is just 
and possible to make, the conduct of Clive must be repro- 
bated. To put the thing on its lowest ground, a few days 
proved that the elaborate plot was uncalled for : everything 
that was won in the year 1757 was won by honesty, and it 
would be difficult to find an example in any part of EngUsh 
history where permanent success has attended deception. 
The great strength of our position in dealing with other 
nations is the fact that our word may be relied upon ; a 
promise is accepted because it is recognised that the per- 
formance will follow in due course. Had the methods used 
by Clive towards Omichund and Suraja Dowlah been gener- 
ally imitated, our word would in time come to have had no 
more weight than that of the Indian or Kafir with whom 
we have treated. An imperial race can neither conquer nor 
maintain its conquests by falsehood. To argue the question 
in its ethical aspects is superfluous. 


But Clive was now on the march. Sura j a Dowlah lay 
with his enormous army a few miles distant, and it was 
time for Mir Jafiir to throw ofi the disguise of loyalty, and 
to assist the Enghsh against the Nawab. He, however, 
still hesitated ; at the last moment he sent evasive answers. 

It was an hour of great peril for Clive and his army. The 
force opposed to him was 40,000 infantry, armed with 
musketry and artillery, and 15,000 cavalry from piassey, 
the hardier races of the North. Against these ^''^'^• 
Clive had hardly a thousand English troops and two thousand 
sepoys. He did not indeed know the exact number of 
the enemy ; but he knew that the disparity was over- 
whelming ; that if he were defeated neither he nor any 
of his men would ever return ahve ; that they would be 
exposed to the most hideous tortures the barbarian Nawab 
could devise. That his personal courage failed is unlikely : 
but a defeat meant not only his own destruction, but also 
the final loss of the Enghsh settlements in Bengal, perhaps 
in all India. 

For the first and last time in his life, Clive shrank for a 
while from responsibihty. He called a council of war ; 
and the majority pronounced in favour of retreat. CHve 
declared his concurrence. Many years afterwards, he said 
that he had never consulted but one council of war, and 
that had he taken its advice the Enghsh would never have 
been masters of Bengal. 

Almost immediately after the discussion, Clive was him- 
self again. He retired alone under the shade of some trees, 
and rested there the space of one hour in deep thought. 
When he returned to the camp he had determined to put 
everything to the hazard ; and orders were given that the 
advance should be made early on the following day. 

Next morning the river which lay between the British and 
Suraja Dowlah was crossed, and a long day's march brought 
the armies within a mile of each other. 


Encamping in a grove of mango-trees near Plassey, Clive 
could not sleep ; the horrible din of drums and cymbals 
from the Nawab's camp was kept up the whole night ; and 
the English general would have been more than human had 
he not been anxious about the morrow, the day which was 
to decide the fate of India. 

Suraja Dowlah, we are told, was also oppressed by fears : 
but they were of a different kind. He was distracted by 
thoughts of the terrible retribution now being meted out to 
him. Always weak and timorous, he dreaded the small 
force of Clive far more than Clive dreaded his huge native 
army ; always cruel, he now showed himself a coward. 
Distrusting every one who approached him, he was yet 
afraid to be left alone ; fearing treachery among his officers, 
he feared also to take any step to discover whether it existed. 

As the day dawned on 23rd June 1757, one year and three 
days after the massacre of Calcutta, the battle began. The 
massed battalions of Bengal began to move towards the 
grove where lay the English and their native aUies. A 
cannonade on both sides commenced the actual conflict ; 
but the artillery of the Nawab did hardly any damage, 
while our guns mowed his men down in quick succession. 
Some of his chief officers fell, and disorder spread through 
the ranks. 

Suraja Dowlah was in a state of abject terror : and when 
somebody, endowed with as little courage as himself, sug- 
gested the expediency of a retreat, the advice was seized 
with alacrity. The order was given ; and it decided the 
fate of the wretched prince. Clive snatched at the occasion, 
and at once commanded an advance. The native army 
now became a mob ; the few Frenchmen who valiantly stood 
their ground were borne down by the weight of their flying 
allies rather than by the British attack. 

In an hour all was over. The great army of Bengal was 
scattered to the four winds of heaven : 500 were 


killed ; and the camp, guns, baggage, wagons, and general 
paraphernalia of war had fallen into the hands of the English. 
Our loss was only 22 killed and 50 wounded. 

Such was the battle of Plassey, the second great event in 
the British conquest of India. The first step had been the 
capture of Arcot, which began the conquest of the South ; 
the second gave England the extremely valuable province of 
Bengal. The first broke the power of the French, for ever 
as it proved, although it was not expected to do so at the 
time ; the second laid the foundation of British supremacy 
in the East. 

But the full import of the victory was not yet reahsed. 
It was evident indeed that it gave us Bengal, that the East 
India Company was no longer in the position of a tenant 
occupying lands and offices and transacting business from 
those lands and offices, in precisely the same way that an 
Enghsh merchant might do in London ; it was evident that 
the Company was henceforth superior to the Nawab, and 
not as hitherto the Nawab to the Company. It was seen 
that the Nawab must become a puppet, to be set up or pulled 
down according as he was obedient to his masters or not ; 
but it was not seen, and in fact it could not yet be seen, that 
the victory of Plassey opened up to England the whole 
empire of India, and that all those vast territories which 
had never seen a European, all those inland kingdoms 
which had kept haughtily aloof from the foreign invaders, 
would in time acknowledge the British power, and become 
integral parts of the British dominions overseas. 

The series of wars, in which Arcot and Plassey were the 
first achievements, occupied more than a century, and are 
not even now brought to a final conclusion ; but the East 
India Company realised nothing of the future at the time, 
and, so far as can be ascertained, Clive did not himself see 
very much further than his masters. The Company wished 
to remain simple traders, and Clive wished to consolidate 


what he had secured. The instinct of the English in India 
was fundamentally opposed to the construction of magnificent 
schemes such as animated the French ; it is curious and 
instructive that in the end the English accomplished far 
more than Dupleix had ever dreamed of doing. 

Book VII 





The immediate results of Plassey were small, except in the 
personal sense that the victory enriched the servants of the 
East India Company in Bengal. Clive at once marched on 
Murshidabad, which readily opened its gates to the conqueror. 
There he took up his residence in a palace, whose garden was 
so large that the whole of the five hundred troops which 
accompanied him could encamp within it. Mir JafEir was 
instantly installed as Nawab. 

The wretched Suraja Dowlah, a prey to his own terrors, had 
escaped from the field of Plassey to Murshidabad : but, fear- 
ful of the vengeance of Chve, he had already left his own 
capital. Disguised in a mean dress, and taldng with him 
only a favourite concubine and a eunuch, he let himself down 
at night from a window in his palace, and embarked on the 
river for Patna. He was recognised and forced to return. 
Exposed to the insults of Mir JafEir, he writhed before his late 
minister in convulsions of fear, and implored with tears and 

1 Authorities. — Hunter, Orme, and Mill, Macaulay's Essays, and 
Malcolm's Life of Clive, as before. The pamphlets and records relating 
to the East India Company. The violent prejudice of James Mill against 
Clive renders him an unsafe guide except for the bare facts of Indian 
history during this period, while Malcolm, on the contrary, is full of 
undigested hero-worship. 



lamentations the mercy to which he himself had always been 
a stranger. 

Mir Jaffir betrayed some indecision ; but his son would not 
hear of clemency. Suraja Dowlah was taken to a secret 
chamber and there assassinated. 

Of this act the English were ignorant till afterwards : for 
the time being the Company's servants were fully occupied 
in filling their pockets. Eight hundred thousand pounds, 
in coined silver, were sent down to Fort William. The whole 
of the royal treasury was thrown open to CHve ; he accepted 
between two and three hundred thousand pounds for his 
private purse. Even then considerable disappointment was 
expressed that Murshidabad did not furnish greater wealth : 
but, in mitigation of the avaricious spirit thus displayed, it 
must be remembered that the boundless wealth of the Orient 
was still proverbial. Experience had not yet taught 
Europeans to deduct the necessary discount from Eastern 
hyperbole ; and, however great had been the booty, it 
would certainly have fallen short of expectations. 

Meanwhile, the news of the outbreak of the Seven Years' 
War had been received in Madras ; and the British officials 
there, dreading as before a French attack on the settlement, 
sent a positive command to CUve to return with the army. 
He disobeyed the order, and kept the troops. Again, a 
despatch arrived from London, in which the directors laid 
down new rules for the Company's stations in Bengal. The 
rules were unsuitable in any case ; they were drawn up before 
the result of Plassey was known in Leadenhall Street, and 
they made no mention of Chve. 

In these circumstances, it was obvious that they could not 
be enforced : and the officials, who were designated in the 
despatch as constituting the new authorities over the British 
settlements in Bengal, felt justified in disregarding their 
instructions. Much to their credit, they induced Chve to 
retain the command. He did so ; and the next despatch 


from England expressed the higli approval of the directors 
at his success in Bengal, which was rewarded by his appoint- 
ment as Governor of all their stations in that Presidency. 

But the newly acquired British power in the East was still 
menaced i'"> various directions. The French, under Bussy, were 
yet strong in the Deccan, and the Seven Years' .^j^g British 
War was at its height. After guerilla combats become the 
between France and England in the south of European 
India, where for some time the chief episodes Power in 
were the plundering by both sides of defenceless ^ ^^" 
native villages, the French commander, Lally, arrived from 
Europe with a force which, in the opinion of Chve, was 
large enough to threaten all the Enghsh East India Com- 
pany's possessions. He immediately took the offensive : 
and his exploits, when joined with the brilhant achieve- 
ments of Bussy in the Deccan, might reasonably have been 
expected to win back the empire of Dupleix. Fort St, 
David fell at once : but all the old faults of the French 
East India Company were again displayed. No prepara- 
tions for the campaign had been made at Pondicherri : ' I 
found not,' said Lally, ' the resource of a hundred pence on 
my arrival.' None of his countrymen would give him credit. 
None of them showed any zeal for the national cause, and 
dissensions and jealousies soon divided the garrison. Lally 
attempted the capture of Madras, but with the Enghsh fleet 
protecting that city his position became impossible. He 
was forced to fall back, and his failure became a subject of 
joy to his unpatriotic personal enemies at Pondicherri. His 
dreams of restoring the French name in the East began to 
fade : although he had written that ' It is the whole of British 
India which now remains for us to attack,' it was soon evident 
that the internal weakness of the French would prevent any- 
thing but occasional sallies on his part. 

Lally 's prestige began to decline among the army, and 
dangerous signs of mutiny appeared ; he was finally de- 


feated by Eyre Coote before Wandewash in 1760. Pondi- 
cberri capitulated in the following January, and the last 
stronghold of the French in India, the hill fortress of Gingi, 
succumbed a few months later. ' That day,' says Orme, 
' terminated the long hostility between the two rival European 
powers in Coromandel, and left not a single ensign of the 
French nation avowed by the authority of the government 
in any part of India.' 

The Dutch Empire had already fallen. Letters had been 
sent from Chinsurah, their station in Bengal, urging the 
authorities at Batavia, the capital of the Dutch East Indies, 
to fit out an expedition which might balance the power of the 
English in India. The advice was attended to, and seven 
Dutch vessels from Java arrived unexpectedly in the Hugli. 
The force on board was greater than that at the disposal of 
CHve, for he had sent the greater part of his troops to assist 
in the struggle against the French. A serious difficulty 
menaced him, for Holland was not at war with Britain : 
and although the combatants of the East took httle notice 
of the treaties of the West, the British Government might 
impeach him for an act of private hostilities against a friendly 
nation. But Clive knew that the traitor Mir Jaffir was in 
secret communication with the Dutch at Chinsurah ; and, 
had he allowed the two to co-operate, the British power in 
Bengal would have been gravely threatened. The latter 
danger seemed greater than the former, and his decision 
was quicMy made. The Dutch attempted to pass up the 
river ; they were stopped by the EngHsh, A battle took 
place on both land and water ; the Dutch were absolutely 
defeated, their ships taken, and their army routed. Chin- 
surah was besieged, but it could not hold out alone. The 
heads of the station were forced to come to terms, and it 
was agreed that Holland might retain the place, on condi- 
tion that no fortifications were raised, and no troops save 
the necessary police maintained. Disobedience was to be 


punished by the instant expulsion of the Dutch from the 

The English East India Company had now no other rivals 
in India. The name of Clive and his victories was enough to 
prevent any native insurrection. An amusing but signifi- 
cant anecdote that has been preserved well illustrates the 
awe with which he was regarded. The Nawab Mir Jaffir had 
occasion to reprimand one of his chiefs, who allowed his 
followers to engage in a brawl with some of the Company's 
sepoys. ' Are you yet to learn/ he said to the delinquent, 
' who that Colonel CUve is, and in what station God has placed 
him ? ' The answer was short and expressive. ' I affront 
the Colonel ! ' said the chief. ' I, who never get up in the 
morning without making three low bows to his jackass ! ' 

A conspiracy of native chiefs against Mir Jaffir, who was 
on all sides rightly regarded as a mere tool of the English, was 
immediately suppressed ; and that contemptible prince in 
gratitude granted CUve, as a personal present, the quit-rent 
of the East India Company's lands in Bengal. Its value 
was little less than thirty thousand pounds a year. Chve 
was now one of the richest men in the world ; and a few 
months later he sailed for England, in the year 1760, to enjoy 
the fruits of his wealth, and to receive the honours, rewards, 
and adulation which there awaited him. 

Few men had ever deserved better of their country. Since 
his time there has been no lack of able soldiers and states- 
men to defend and enlarge our Asiatic possessions : before 
him there was not one who was capable of doing so. It was 
he who discovered the talent that lay dormant in such men as 
Coote and Hastings ; it was he who created the tradition of 
British supremacy in the East : in a word, it was he, and he 
alone, who laid the foundation of the British Indian Empire. 

But the greatness of Chve cannot be appreciated at its 
proper value till we have seen to what a depth of shame the 
East India Company in India sank during his absence, 



and the state of anarchy and robbery from which he 
rescued it after his return. We have said that he created 
The English ^^® tradition of British supremacy ; and since 
Tyranny, his time our power in the East has only once 
been seriously endangered. But he had created 
no system of administration ; he left behind him no tradition 
of government. It was still a recognised rule that the 
Company was to get as much and to give as little as it could, 
and its servants endeavoured not misuccessfuUy to do like- 
wise. The natives of India were notoriously evasive and 
deceptive in their dealings with foreigners, and the Company 
had too often followed their example. Chve himself had done 
so on occasion ; and his acts, if not his words, proved that 
he thought deceit no crime when practised towards a native 
of India. The tradition of British supremacy in India was 
indeed maintained during his absence : nothing could undo 
that save the evacuation of our possessions there ; but there 
was as yet no sense of responsibility towards our new 
subjects, no feeling that the privileges of rule entailed duties 
equally great towards those whom we governed. 

Clive was not a particularly scrupulous man, and he would 
scarcely have hesitated to take any step that, in his opinion, 
advanced the interests of his employers : but at least he 
embarked on no frauds or extortion to serve his personal 
ends. He was not rapacious or avaricious, although he had 
accepted gifts that strictly he should have refused ; but 
those who came after him were to show to what tyranny 
men can stoop when they are not restrained by any dread 
of future retribution or any code of personal honour. 

The Enghsh power in Bengal was supreme. In the south 
of India it was less firmly rooted, but still no native would 
have dared to question it. Certainly none of the peaceful 
Bengalis would venture to rebel, and Bengal was now by far 
the most important British possession in the East. The 
Nawab Mir Jaffir was a puppet in our hands ; but soon after 


the departure of Clive he displeased the governing Council 
at Calcutta. He was deposed ; and another puppet, Mir 
Cossim, reigned in his stead. But the latter was not the 
negligible quantity that his predecessor had been : and 
therefore he too was deposed, and Mir JafEir was again made 

From each revolution the servants of the Company took 
their profit. The treasury was in their hands, and they 
helped themselves to the utmost. The people were ground 
down by taxation ; and every few months a fresh turn was 
given to the screw, as some new Englishman arrived at 
Calcutta to make a fortune. 

But these evils were the least that the wretched natives 
had to bear. The private trade of the country was now 
engrossed by the Company's servants : the profitable com- 
merce in salt, tobacco, and the betel-nut was all seized by 
them. They bought and sold at whatever prices seemed 
best to them. They refused to pay the transport duties ; 
if a toll-collector complained, he was taken and imprisoned 
in one of the Company's stations. . 

Vansittart, the Governor, was appealed to ; but he was 
too weak to end the abuse. He merely replied that he was 
' unwilling to give up an advantage,' and he was unable to 
make others give it up. Warren Hastings was the only 
member of the Council who wished to stop the robbery ; 
but alone he was unable to do anything, and his colleagues 
were all occupied in getting rich as quickly as they could. 

Such tyranny as this had never been known in India. 
Other governments had been rapacious, had robbed their 
subjects, had tortured them, had put them to death. The 
Enghsh repression was of a different character. It cared 
nothing about the pohtical complexion of the country. It 
is not on record that a single act of torture was committed, 
or that one man was executed mijustly. But for that very 
reason the tyranny was the more terrible, for its sole object 


was to extort every available rupee from the pockets of the 
Bengalis, and to place them in the pockets of the Company's 
servants. The rapacity was merciless, and it was miending ; 
for so soon as one foreigner had accumulated a fortune, he 
returned to England, and another took his place, whose 
object in coming was the same. Complaint was useless, for 
complaint could only be made to those who did the wrong. 
Rebellion was impossible, for the lesson of Plassey was not 
forgotten, and the Company's generals who still remained 
in India were worthy successors of Clive. 

The misery of the land is well summed up by the Musalman 
historian of the times in his description of the Enghsh tyrants. 
' It must be acknowledged,' he says, ' that this nation's 
presence of mind, firmness of temper, and undaunted bravery 
are past all question. They join the most resolute courage 
to the most cautious prudence ; nor have they their equals 
in the art of ranging themselves in battle array and fighting 
in order. If to so many mihtary quahfications they knew 
how to join the arts of government ; if they exerted as 
much ingenuity and solicitude in relieving the people of God, 
as they do in whatever concerns their mihtary affairs, no 
nation in the world would be preferable to them, or worthier 
of command. But the people under their dominion groan 
everywhere, and are reduced to poverty and distress. 
God, come to the assistance of thine afflicted servants, and 
deliver them from the oppressions which they suffer.' 

Five years the tyranny continued unchecked. But the 
directors of the East India Company were already becoming 
alarmed at the condition of their oriental possessions. A 
conspiracy at Patna had necessitated the despatch of Hector 
Munro from Bombay ; and a dangerous sepoy mutiny in 
the ranks was only quelled by his firmness. The war in the 
Patna district proved long and costly. ' The Company,' 
wrote one of the directors, ' was sinldng under the burden, 
and obliged to borrow great sums off their servants at eight 


per cent, interest, and even with that assistance were unable 
to carry on the war and their investment, but obliged to 
send their ships half loaded to Europe/ Mihtary authority 
had become relaxed, and only terror now kept down the 
insubordination of the sepoys. The Company was in 
financial difficulties, yet its servants returned home 

The origin of the evil was well understood : and in a per- 
emptory command, dated 8th February 1764, the directors 
endeavoured to stop it. ' One grand source of the disputes, 
misunderstandings, and difficulties,' said they, ' which have 
occurred with the country government, appears evidently 
to have taken its rise from the unwarrantable and licentious 
manner of carrying on the private trade by the Company's 
servants ... to the prejudice of the Subah, both with 
respect to his authority and the revenues justly due to him ; 
the diverting and taking from his natural subjects the trade 
in the inland parts of the country, to which neither we, nor 
any persons whatsoever dependent upon us, nor under our 
protection, have any manner of right. In order, therefore, 
to remedy all these disorders, we do hereby positively order 
and direct that, from the receipt of this letter a final and 
effectual end be forthwith put to the inland trade.' 

But such measures were of no use while the salaries of the 
Company's servants in the East remained inadequate. It 
was not to be expected that men would exile The Return 
themselves from home for several years to gain ofcuve. 
the paltry remuneration which the directors thought suffi- 
cient. It was absurd to suppose that they would give 
up their profits in trade, even though that trade was 
illegitimate, when those profits were the sole attraction 
that brought them to India, and the sole reason that kept 
them there. The directors' commands were contemptuously 
disregarded, and the situation became more and more 
dangerous. At length the proper step was taken. In spite 


of the opposition of enemies on the board of the Company 

in London, it was recognised that CUve was the one man 

who could cope with the problem ; and he was appointed 

Governor and Commander-in-Chief of the British possessions 

in Bengal. After heated disputes and protracted negotiations 

he sailed ; and in May 1765 he reached Calcutta. 

The task before him was one of extraordinary difficulty. 

He himself called it a cleansing of the Augean stable. ' What 

do we hear of, what do we see,' he wrote, ' but 
His Reforms. , ' . , , . ' 

anarchy, contusion, and what is worse, an almost 

general corruption." To an intimate friend he expressed him- 
self with a depth of feeling to which he seldom gave vent. 
' Alas ! how is the English name sunk ! I could not avoid 
paying the tribute of a few tears to the departed and lost 
fame of the British nation — irrecoverably so, I fear. How- 
ever, I do declare, by that great Being who is the searcher 
of all hearts, and to whom we must be accountable if there 
be a hereafter, that I am come out with a mind superior to 
all corruption, and that I am determined to destroy these 
great and growing evils, or perish in the attempt.' 

Unfortunately the powers granted him were loosely and 
jesuitically worded, and were at once contested by the 
Council at Calcutta. ' I was determined, however,' he said 
afterwards in his great speech in his oAvn defence before 
Parhament, ' to put the most extensive construction upon 
them, because I was determined to do my duty to my 

Glive had not been a week in India before he intimated 
his intention of purifying the administration, and of finally 
putting an efiectual stop to the illegitimate private trade 
which had been the source of most of the abuses. At the 
first meeting of the Council he announced his decision. 

One of its members, who had notoriously been to the fore 
in acts of rapacity, made a show of opposition. CUve 
interrupted him, and haughtily demanded to know whether 


he disputed the authority of the new government. The 
objector was cowed by the question, and denied an}^ wish 
to obstruct. The other members uttered not a syllable of 

7heir opposition was none the less real, and CHve knew 
it. He was not bhnd to the difficulties and temptations 
wiih which he would have to contend. Had he been 
mercenary, had he been false to the trust imposed in him 
by the directors, he might have done anything he wished 
for his personal aggrandisement. His wealth was already 
great ; he might have now made himself by far the richest 
man in the world. He might have connived at the private 
trade and the other abuses he was sent out to uproot ; by 
sharing the spoils with his old colleagues, he would have 
made himself popular among them, and he could have 
satisfied the directors at home with pretended reforms that 
had no existence beyond the paper on which they were 

On the other hand, the policy which he had sketched out 
as necessary to the welfare of both India and the East India 
Company was certain to procure him the undying hatred of 
the Enghsh officials in the Orient. It was by no means so 
certain that it would win the approval of the directors and 
proprietors. To enforce it would mean hard work in the 
teeth of the interested opposition of a gang of fortune- 
hunters, and that without any pecuniary profit for himself. 
Many another man would have grasped at the dishonest 
opportunity : CHve did not. 

The destinies of the Enghsh in India had once before 
depended on his courage ; they now depended on his 
honesty and sense of pubhc duty as well. He was not 
avaricious. Indeed, he was able to declare later that he 
left India a poorer man after his third visit than after his 
second ; and CUve was never afraid of opposition or un- 
popularity. He carried out the civil measures of reform 


that lie had planned with the same iron will that he had 
shown as a military commander. 

The receiving of presents from the natives was straiglt- / 
way prohibited. No more of such forced benevolenees 
In tne Civil disgraced the British name in India. Privitei 
Service. trade was forbidden without any quaUfication.) 
The whole English settlement rose in rebellion at these acs. 
Instead of quickly amassing riches and returning to Eurq)e 
within a year or two, the greedy adventurers of Calcurta 
saw themselves condemned to half a hfetime of dreary routine 
work for little pay, and the prospect of an eventual landing 
at home almost as poor as when they embarked. 

But Olive was undaunted. He declared that if he were 
unable to find support in Bengal he would find it elsewhere. 
His chief opponents were dismissed, and other less factious 
assistants were obtained from Madras. By these stern 
measures resistance was quelled. 

But it was evident that unless the salari'es of the Company's 
servants were increased to a reasonable amount the old 
abuses would spring up again ; or if that were avoided it 
would only be because an incompetent class of men who 
could get no better employment at home had accepted posts 
in the service. Either alternative was bad ; but the 
directors were obstinate, and would not increase the salaries. 
Olive, therefore, took matters into his own hands. 

A revised scale of remuneration was drawn up, which 
provided an adequate salary to each grade of the service ; 
and the monopoly of salt was appropriated to its payment. 
James Mill, an historian whose invincible prejudice saw some- 
thing to condemn in every deed of the British in India, was of 
opinion that the act was a tyrannous usurpation of authority 
on the part of Olive ; and he beheved that it would have no 
effect in restraining the abuses of private trade, for what had 
been in the power of the grasping before the arrival of the 
soldier-statesman would again be in their power after his 


departure. To the former objection, it is sufficient to answer 
that the salt monopoly had been a source of Indian revenue 
many generations before the eighteenth century ; its appro- 
priation for the government service imposed no new hard- 
ship on the natives. On the contrary, it alleviated their 
burdens : for, in spite of the theoretic historian, the rapacity 
of the East India Company's clerks was immediately checked. 
In the success of the measure lies its justification. 

The abuses of the civil administration were thus done away 
with : those of the military still remained. In a double sense 
their opposition was even more formidable than j^-j^g 
that of the civilians. Theirs was the supreme Military 
power in the country. They were old comrades ^®'^^''®- 
in arms of Clive. They had been affected disadvantageously 
by the retrenchments ordered by the directors. And they 
now rebelled under the stern reforming hand of the old 
master whom they had loved and obeyed so well. 

Two hundred British officers conspired against the govern- 
ment, and determined to resign their commissions on the 
same day. They acted in the belief that Clive would quail 
before an act which jeopardised the very existence of the 
British Empire in Asia. But they little knew with whom 
they had to deal. There were a few officers left on whom 
Clive could rely ; he ordered up others from Madras ; he 
gave commissions to mercantile agents, to anybody, in fact, 
who would support him at such a crisis ; and the sepoys 
remained true to one who in past years had often led them 
to victory. 

The mutineers were ordered to Calcutta : and they soon 
discovered that they had mistaken their man. They implored 
to be taken back into the service. But CHve was inexorable. 
The ringleaders were cashiered ; some of the juniors were 
leniently treated ; but he was inflexible in his determination 
to dismiss the chiefs who had deserted him. 

While thus severe, however, Chve was not revengeful. It 


was suggested that one of the conspirators had planned his 
assassination ; but he would not listen to the charge. ' The 
officers/ he said, ' are Enghshmen, not assassins/ From 
that time the mihtary were obedient. 

But these changes, great as they were, still left the 
relations between the East India Company and the en- 
in the Native f eebled and declining native governments of 
Government. India untouched. Yet CHve knew that after 
his return some ambitious or avaricious official could again 
pull down the existing Nawab, and set up his own nominee 
whenever he wished. The well-known series of events would 
begin once more : the prince who was deposed would con- 
spire against the EngHsh, and he who was elevated to the 
throne would prove a traitor or a weakling, or both ; a 
massacre would take place, as it had at Patna in 1763 ; a 
mutiny would break out, as in 1764 ; and the old vicious 
circle of continuous repression would recommence. 

It was therefore necessary to alter the whole position 
which the East India Company held as masters of India. 
But first it was necessary to decide what their future pohcy 
was to be. Were they to extend their conquests indefinitely 
through the peninsula, or to be content merely to conserve 
what they had won ? 

An ambitious dreamer of the magnificent type of Dupleix 
would have taken the former course without hesitation. 
Had Clive been cast in the same mould he would have done 
so ; had he been only a lover of military glory, he would 
probably have embarked on a vast series of conquests. But 
he was a statesman as well as a soldier, an employee of a 
commercial corporation as weU as a ruler of kingdoms ; and 
the day of the EngHsh dreamer in India was not yet. 

He determined to cry a halt in the movement towards 
expansion. On 30th September 1765 he wrote : ' My resolu- 
tion was, and my hopes will always be, to confine our assist- 
ance, our conquest, and our possessions, to Bengal, Bahar, 


and Orissa : to go further is, in my opinion, a scheme so 
extravagantly ambitious and absurd, that no Governor and 
Coimcil in their senses can ever adopt it, unless the whole 
scheme of the Company's interest be first entirely new 
modelled.' That he had the support of the directors in 
making this decision the whole tenor of their despatches 
shows. They had always protested against being made 
oriental sovereigns against their will. They detested the 
responsibilities that had been thrust upon them, possibly 
with an uneasy foreconsciousness that it would eventually 
bring about the interference of the British Parliament. 
For a century and a half they had been a trading company, 
and they stiU saw no reason why they should now change 
their course. ^ They continued, in fact, to condemn the 
policy of expansion for years after Clive left India. In a 
letter of 1768 they wrote : ' It is not for the Company to take 
the part of umpires of Indostan. If it had not been for the 
imprudent measures you have taken, the country powers 
would have formed a balance of power among themselves. 
We wish to see the Indian princes remain as a check upon 
one another, without our interfering.' In the following year 
another reprimand was sent out : ' It is with the utmost 
anxiety and displeasure that we see the tenth article of the 
treaty ... a measure so totally repugnant to our most 
positive and repeated orders not to extend our possessions 
beyond the Carnatic. . . . The rage for negotiations, 
treaties, and alliances, has private advantage for its object 
more than the public good.' 

Clive, therefore, in calling a halt, was aware that he would 
win the approval of his employers : but this certainly 

^ It may be noticed that they succeeded in remaining a trading com- 
pany in China, without any territorial responsibility. But had the 
Chinese Empire shown the.same signs of disruption as the Indian, they 
would probably have been forced to follow the same course there as in 
India. Circumstances favoured a continuance of the more limited policy 
in China, and opposed it in India ; unfortunately for the directors, how- 
ever, India was more important commercially than China,. 


weighed less with him than the good of the British name in 
India. The directors natm-ally approved his decision to 
stop territorial expansion ; but they wished to go further, 
and give up something even of what they had acquired. 
On this point Clive was adamant. He wrote at once, ' With 
regard to the magnitude of our possessions be not staggered. 
Assure yourself that the Company must either be what they 
are or be annihilated.' 

The measures he took may be briefly stated. On his 
arrival, he found the Nawab of Oudh threatening the British 
The Dual possessions. The mere name of Chve was enough 
System. ^q make the native prince sue for peace, and sub- 
mit to pay one and a half miUions sterHng for the expenses 
of the war. Allahabad and Korah were returned to their 
original owner. In the provinces of Bengal, Bahar, Orissa, 
and the Northern Circars was set up what became known 
as the dual system : that is to say, the Mughal, titular sove- 
reign of all India, was prevailed upon to issue a warrant, 
by which the Enghsh were to collect the revenues of those 
provinces, and to maintain the army. For this privilege the 
Company paid six hundred thousand sterling to the Nawab at 
Murshidabad, and half that sum to the Emperor at Delhi. 
The criminal jurisdiction still remained in native hands. 

When the miserable puppet who was installed as Nawab 
at Murshidabad heard of the sum he was to receive his one 
remark was, ' Thank God ! Now I can have as many dancing- 
girls as I please ! ' His exclamation sufficiently charac- 
terises the class of men to whom the government of India 
had previously fallen. By the new arrangement, however, 
the EngUsh were the real masters ; although by the fiction of 
the dual grant, they were the servants both of the Nawab 
and of the Mughal to whom they paid a subsidy. 

Clive had thought of openly claiming the complete rule 
for the East India Company : but he hesitated, and finally 
declined to do so, on the ground that it would be more easy 


to conduct negotiations with the other European traders 
in Asia through the medium of a native sovereign. The 
experience of a few years proved him to be mistaken. The 
dual system was cumbrous and unsatisfactory in working : 
it lasted only a short time. By it the English possessed the 
substance of power without the shadow ; the course of events 
speedily made it necessary for them to possess both. 

The next step forward, however, was left to another man. 
Clive had done his work : and after eighteen months in the 
East, his third and last visit to India came to an end in 
January 1767. Broken in health, he returned to England, 
there to spend those last few melancholy years which form 
so pitiful a contrast to his brilliant career in India. 

WARREN HASTINGS : 1767-85 ' 

The jBirst years after Clive had taken his final departure from 
India were quiet and uneventful. The abuses he had put 
down did not revive to any extent. The new system of 
government introduced by him was on its trial. 

Now, if at any time, the business of the East India Com- 
pany should have been profitable ; the directors should have 
been wealthy, the shareholders contented, and the staff well 

' Authorities. — Gleig's Life for the personal history of Warren Hastings, 
with his own numerous writings. Hunter for his administration, supple- 
mented by the masterly State papers penned by Hastings himself during 
his period of office. Mill is extremely prejudiced against Hastings ; 
Macaulay's brilliant essay must be corrected by G. W. Forrest, Selec- 
tions Jroni the State Papers of the Governors-General of India, which ha,ve 
only recently been published. Macaulay's estimate of Impey must be 
rejected after the defence of that judge in the Memoirs, by his son ; the 
important Story of Nuncumar, by Sir James Stephen ; and Mr. Forrest's 
examination of his Indian career. The parliamentary debates and 
pamphlets published at this time in England, which are referred to at 
greater length in the next chapter, throw useful sidelights on the period. 
The pamphlets are often extremely acrimonious and contradictory ; see, 
for example, The Origin and Authentic Narrative of the Present Marratta 


paid and prosperous. As a matter of fact, the Company had 
seldom been in greater financial difiiculties ; and the troubles 
of the Board of Control were added to by the constant dis- 
sensions within, and the continual discussions which took 
place in public as to their methods of government, their policy 
of management, their treatment of the stafi, and their conduct 
towards their Asiatic subjects. 

England, in fact, was slowly beginning to realise that she 
had undesignedly conquered an empire ; and her equanimity 
was disturbed by the knowledge that it was an anomaly that 
a trading corporation of London should be a sovereign power 
in Asia. For the moment, however, the national conscience 
was not seriously incommoded by the discovery. 

But three years after Clive left India, an event took place 
which neither the statesmanship nor the business instinct 
THe Famine of the East India Company could have foreseen 
of 1770. Qj. provided against. For the first time since they 
had emerged from the humble position of mercantile ad- 
venturers, one of those terrible famines which are the scourge 
of Asia confronted them ; and the Bengal famine of 1770 was 
peculiarly memorable for its severity. 

Famines had indeed constantly visited India. There is 
proof of their existence from the earliest times of which we 
have record. Every few years one part or another of the 
country had been devastated ; but their very number pre- 
vented all but the most awful from being held in more than 

War, and also the late Rohilla War, published in 1781, obviously in the 
interest of Sir Philip Francis, and taking throughout the most unfavour- 
able view of Hastings. There are others, by the Governor-General's 
indiscreet friends, as partial to him as this is hostile. The political 
history of the events leading up to the first Maratha War is somewhat 
obscure, and the narrative rests on rather crumbling ground, in sharp 
distinction to the military history of that war and the war with Mysore, 
as also of the annals of Bengal and Madras, where no room for doubt can 
arise. The reaction upon Indian policy of the critical situation of 
European politics must be borne in mind throughout the whole period 
when Hastings was Governor-General. Some interesting details of 
Madras at this time will be found in Miss Robbins' work, Our First 
Ambassador to China. 


local remembrance. Of the one that took place in 1630 a con- 
temporary historian wrote : * Life was offered for a loaf, but 
none would buy ; rank was to be sold for a cake, but none 
cared for it ; the ever bounteous hand was now stretched out 
for food. For long dog's flesh was sold for goat's flesh, and 
the pounded bones of the dead were mixed with flour and 
sold ; men began to devour each other, and the flesh of a son 
was preferred to his love.' The same scenes of horror pro- 
bably occurred at each visitation ; but so far as can be known, 
the famine of 1770 surpassed them all. 

The story is appalhngly simple. The head of each family 
cultivated his own plot of ground : and when the rains failed 
for a season, the rivers shrank to rivulets, the crops did not 
appear, and the whole population of the Ganges valley was 
soon starving. Men died helplessly by the roadside ; women 
who had never before shown their faces in public came forth 
into the streets, and threw themselves on the earth, with 
loud lamentations imploring in vain a morsel of rice for their 
little ones. The survivors were too weak to attend to the 
dying or administer the last rites to the dead ; loathsome 
birds of prey fed openly on the corpses that strewed the cities 
and fields of the unhappy province of Bengal ; thousands of 
those who perished were borne down by the Hugli past the 
English settlement of Calcutta. 

It is said that ten millions died in a few months : the popular 
computation reckoned that six annas in the rupee, or six- 
sixteenths of the whole population of Bengal, perished in the 

It was rumoured that the servants of the East India Com- 
pany snatched a wretched and inhuman profit by buying all 
the available rice and grain of the country, and selling it at 
many times its normal price to their starving subjects. The 
allegation seems to have been unfounded ; for the honour 
of the English name, we may hope that it was ; but it shows 
the opinion held at home of the morality of the East India 


Company's employees. Public feeling in England was now 
thoroughly aroused, and sympathy with India was mingled 
with horror at the acts of its masters, for which England was 
indirectly answerable ; and before the just indignation of 
the country could die away under some more exciting party 
political scare at Westminster, the first great parliamentary 
measure of Indian administrative reform was accomplished. 

The cost of government, and the decreasing profits on its 

trade, had brought the Company into serious financial straits. 

India and ^^^ ^^^ ^^ Parliament passed in 1769, permitting 

the British a renewal of the charter, contained more onerous 

ar lamen . pj.QyigJQjjg ^j^^j^ j^^^j previously been required of 

the stockholders. Their property in India was granted 
for five years more, on condition that they paid into 
the English exchequer annually four hundred thousand 
sterling. By a shding scale, their dividend might rise from 
ten to twelve and a half per cent. ; if it fell below that sum 
their contribution to the exchequer was reduced ; if it should 
be less than six per cent, no claim at all was to be made on 
them. But this did not improve their affairs : and three 
years later came the crisis. It was necessary to borrow from 
the Bank of England to save the Company from bankruptcy ; 
and the Bank was unwilling to lend all that was required. 
Application was made to the British Government, and the 
British Government turned a deaf ear to the directors. 

It was now August 1772 ; and already in January of that 
year the King's Speech at the opening of Parliament had 
The Reeu- nientioned the affairs of India as a possible 
lating Act, subject of legislation. On 30th March a Bill 
had been brought in for the better regulation of 
the Indian service, and for improving the administration of 
justice in the East. Referred to a Select Committee, it 
was thrown out on second reading ; but Parliament again 
met in November, much earlier than usual, in order to 
consider the position of the East India Company. 


The directors complained in vain of the interference ; it 
was proposed to lend them money to carry on the 
business of the Company, and to allow them the profits 
and ownership of their territorial possessions for the ensuing 
six years that were unexpired of the term of their charter. 
Loud protests were heard that this was confiscation of pro- 
perty : but, on 3rd May 1773, the Government introduced an 
almost revolutionary measure. Some small alterations were 
to be made in the constitution of the Company at home, but 
the main changes afEected India. . . 

•~ A Governor-General was to be appointed at a salary of < 
£25,000 yearly, assisted by four Councillors with £8000 each. 
This was to apply to Bengal ; and the other presidencies were 
to be subordinate to it. A Supreme Court of Judicature 
was to be estabhshed at Calcutta, with a Chief-Justice at a 
salary of £8000 and three judges at £6000. These were to 
be appointed by the British Government ; the first Governor- 
General and Councillors were to be nominated by Parliament 
for the first five years ; after that the patronage returned 
to the directors, but always subject to the approval of the 
Government ; while everything in the Company's corre- 
spondence relating to civil or military affairs, the government 
of the country, or the administration of revenue, was to be 
laid before the British Cabinet for approval. No person in 
the service either of the king or the Company was to be 
allowed to receive presents, and the Governor-General, the 
Councillors, and the judges were to be excluded from all 
commercial profits and pursuits. 

The Company again protested bitterly at the subversion 
of its chartered rights, and appeal was made to the City 
of London, the stronghold of commercial corporations, for 
aid in the struggle against a measure that was stigmatised 
as legal robbery. It was said that no property was safe 
when ParHament could thus despoil its owners ; that it 
was manifestly unjust that the Company should be deprived 



of the choice of its servants, while it was compelled to pay 
those appointed by others, and pay them, too, enormous 
salaries out of profits none too large. It was hinted darkly 
that what had happened to the East India Company might 
be the fate of other City corporations, and that it behoved 
all to stand together in defence of the first victim. 

But the City took no action, although it must be admitted 
that a plausible case was made out. The weak point in 
the directors' argument was their ignoring the fact that it 
was abnormal for a commercial company to rule an empire. 
No other company was likely to find itself in such a position, 
and London could not be very seriously alarmed at a law 
that was evidently not really intended to confiscate property 
at all, but was only introduced in obedience to the higher 
principle that England as a whole was responsible for the 
acts of her people throughout the world. The directors also 
conveniently forgot that it was they who had first appealed 
to the British Government for aid ; and that the administra- 
tion of their Asiatic possessions had for years been a byword 
and a reproach. 

If a commercial crisis and a political scandal together 
do not justify the interference of Parhament, then nothing 
does. The Bill was passed. 

The first Governor-General of British India was Warren 
Hastings, a scholar and administrator, the strange romance 
Warren ^^ whose career is in itself an epitome of Anglo- 
Hastings, Indian history for many years. Born of the 

1 (TOO T O^ O 

old and honourable but decayed family of the 
Hastings of Daylesford, on 6th December 1732, it seemed 
likely in early life that the natural bent of his talents would 
make him a man of letters, perhaps a university professor. 
A good athlete at Westminster School, he took even more 
kindly to his book than to sport. 

But the guardian in whose care the orphan had been 
placed had planned a different career for his charge. It was 


in his power to obtain for Hastings a writersliip in the East 
India Company's service ; and, despite the remonstrances 
of the latter's tutor, who offered to pay the expenses of his 
most promising pupil at the university, young Hastings was 
shipped off to the East in his eighteenth year. 

It seemed that in all probabiHty a life at the desk awaited 
him, a life whose main incidents were the making out of 
accounts, the posting of ledgers, and the correct filhng-up 
of bills of lading. Nothing more engrossing occupied the 
average Anglo-Indian at that time, unless he engaged in the 
illicit private trade that alone could make him independent. 
To these unexciting pursuits was Hastings doomed ; but 
his was a different spirit from that of the majority of his 
fellow clerks. 

The taste for learning softened the fetters of commerce ; 
the love of letters survived the cares of statesmanship and 
the long wrangles at the Council Board. He was the first 
Englishman in the East who took any interest in the 
magnificent literature of India ; the first who troubled to 
gain anything beyond a perfunctory knowledge of the 
languages of the country. Clive had conducted all his 
affairs through an interpreter. The merchants of the 
Company were satisfied if they could speak enough of the 
vernacular to buy and sell advantageously. Hastings, on 
the other hand, studied the tongue of the people among 
whom he dwelt, and explored part, at least, of the sealed 
book of Eastern thought. It was through his personal 
exertions in later years that a few cultured Enghshmen 
began to reahse that there were Asiatic as well as Em'opean 
classics, and that a knowledge of the Sanscrit idiom might 
be as useful as that of ancient Greece. 

It is not difficult to see that a man whose tastes led him 
to the then unprecedented course of learning what were 
still considered barbarous languages, would be an adminis- 
trator of fundamentally different type from the ordinary 


official : and whatever mistakes Hastings committed in the 
course of his career, however harsh and unjust he may have 
been at times to the land he ruled, there was always a world 
of difierence between his pohcy and that of his predecessors. 

His absorption in a dramatic series of political and diplo- 
matic events has averted attention from his reforms in Bengal 
and the other provinces under British rule ; the indignation 
of England at the autocratic excesses which stain his name 
is remembered, while much of his permanent work is for- 
gotten, buried as it is in uninteresting State papers and dry 
legal documents ; yet the administrative side of his career, 
neglected by his enemies when they impeached him, 
neglected Hkewise by too many historians who seize only 
on the picturesque and striking episodes of Hfe, embodies, 
in fact, by far the most valuable part of his work. 

The first two years of his hfe in India were spent unevent- 
fully in the East India Company's office at Calcutta. Clive 
had despaired in a similar situation, and attempted to commit 
suicide ; Hastings gave way to no such outburst of passion. 
His whole character, indeed, was one of quiet calm depth 
and strength. He had, at least in early years, the lack of 
assertiveness that is natural to the student ; thus we find 
Clive, who soon noticed his abihty, writing to him, ' I thought 
I discovered in you a diffidence in your own judgment, and 
too great an easiness of disposition, which may subject you 
insensibly to be led where you ought to guide.' 
; Seldom was there a greater mistake. Under an unimposing 
appearance, and with an apparent docihty which may have led 
him at first to acquiesce in acts of which he must have seen 
the unwisdom, lay concealed an unconquerable will and a firm- 
ness of purpose not less inflexible than that of Robert Lord 
Chve. And his later career was to show that he possessed to 
the full the unscrupulousness inherent in great men when placed 
in a position of supreme power, the contempt for anything 
but the shortest cut to the required end, the necessary dis- 


regard of the feelings and rights of opponents who do not 
matter, the requisite foresight to circumvent in advance 
those who may become dangerous. 

Two incidents of his private life show the patient firmness 
with which he pursued any object that lay near his heart. 
As a boy, he had determined to win back the family estates 
at Daylesford, which the improvidence of his ancestors had 
lost. He has left an account of his childish thoughts in his 
own graceful style, A stream ran beside his home : and 
' to lie beside the margin of that stream,' he wrote, ' and 
muse was one of my favourite recreations ; and there, one 
bright summer's day, when I was scarcely seven years old, 
I well remember that I first formed the determination to 
purchase back Daylesford. I was then quite dependent 
upon those who were themselves scarcely raised above want ; 
yet somehow or other the child's dream, as it did not appear 
unreasonable at the moment, so in after years it never faded 
away. God knows there were times in my career, when to 
accomplish that or any other object of honourable ambition, 
seemed to be impossible : but I have lived to accomplish 
this.' At his desk in India he still held to the idea, and it 
animated him throughout his whole career until he was 

Again, on his second journey out to India, he fell in love. 
The lady was already married to an ignoble German baron, 
who consented to a divorce ; and Hastings waited patiently 
during the years that elapsed before the tardy law courts of 
Franconia pronounced the decree that freed her. 

jLs a jmiior clerk Hastings was unassuming ; as Governor- 
General of British India he indulged in no pomp or ceremony. 
A description of him by a French observer marvels at his 
lack of ostentation. He wore a plain suit of English broad- 
cloth, without any of the customary ornament of lace and 
embroidery. His whole retinue was a dozen horseguards. 
His throne was a plain mahogany chair ; and there were 


plenty of similar thrones, said tte amused Frenchman, in 
the hall. His table was sometimes neglected, his diet was 
sparing and always abstemious. His manners were far 
distant from pride, but still more distant from familiarity. 

Such was the man who, having made his way by gradual 
steps from clerk to Councillor, became in 1772 Governor of 
Bengal, and three years later the first Governor-General of 
British India. It was not long before he inaugurated a new 
policy of reform, and swept away that dual system which 
Olive had introduced, and which it was now found impossible 
to continue with any advantage. 

All land in India had from time immemorial belonged to 
the State : the ryot, or cultivator, paying for its use part 
Revenue o^ the proceeds of his labour to the head of the 
Reform. State. The collector of this revenue was the 
zamindar : and it was his duty to receive the total revenue 
of his district, and to pay it over to the central office of 
revenue, deducting ten per cent, of the whole for his com- 
mission or salary. An elaborate system of assessment had 
been worked out : and even in the days when the Mughal 
Empire was falling to pieces, the system was adhered to. It 
must have been open to abuses at all times : the ryot was 
often mulcted of more than his due, and in practice he was 
powerless to resist. But during the days of anarchy that pre- 
ceded the conquest by the British, the extortions of the 
zamindari had become almost unbearable. If they allowed 
the ryot to retain as much of the proceeds of his labour 
as was necessary for a bare existence, and for the sowing of 
his next year's crop, it was only because self-interest warned 
the zamindar that he should not utterly exterminate the 
person from whom he derived his wealth. 

Nor did the system improve during the first years of the 
British administration. Besides the zamindar, the greedy 
officials of the East India Company had also to obtain their 
pickings ; and an additional burden thus fell on the ryot. 


The reforms of Clive made little difference : for if the servants 
of the Company were restrained, the proceeds now went 
into the treasury of the Company itself. Even during the 
terrible Bengal famine the revenue was pitilessly collected 
with the utmost rigour ; and the whole country still con- 
tinued to groan under the double tyranny, a tyranny which 
it was impossible to shake off, and useless to question. 

It was this iniquitous state of things which Warren Hastings 
set himself to abolish. In a report on the working of the 
dual system he wrote, that, ' The Nazims exacted what they 
could from the zamindars and great farmers of the revenue, 
whom they left at liberty to plunder all below ; reserving to 
themselves the prerogative of plundering them in turn, when 
they were supposed to enrich themselves with the spoil of 
the country.' There was indeed habitual extortion and in- 
justice, which had its natural effect on the ryots. When 
there is tyranny above there will be concealment and evasion 
below ; and the ryots, sure that they would be made to pay 
more than the just amount, endeavoured by subterfuge to 
pay less. 

The adverse report of Hastings had immediate effect. The 
directors decided to ' take upon themselves by the agency 
of their own servants the entire care and administration 
of the revenue ' ; and, accordingly, the exchequer was re- 
moved to Calcutta, and European collectors were appointed 
to superintend the revenue and preside in the courts. 

Such was the beginning of the reform ; and from that 
time Hastings embarked on a long series of administrative 
experiments. Lands were let out in farm on long leases, but 
provision was made against the tyranny of the collectors ; 
a native assistant was attached to every collector, to check 
his actions : and no servant of a collector was permitted to 
farm any part of the revenue. An old abuse, the receiving 
of forced ' presents ' from the ryot, was stopped. 

A still worse abuse than these remained : the ryot had been 


preyed upon till he had been compelled to borrow money, 
lest he should be without the means for buying the seed for 
his next year's crop. He could only borrow from the zamindar ; 
and the latter imposed a rate of interest that even a mediaeval 
Jew would have considered extortionate. Precautions were 
taken to stop this exaction, which changed a free man into 
a slave : but the cancer was too deeply rooted in Indian life 
to be cut out at one operation. A later report from the 
Council expressed regret that they had been unable alto- 
gether to abohsh the resort to usury : nor can their failure be 
wondered at, when we remember that, despite the land banks 
of modern India, that wretched parasite, the village money- 
lender, still grows fat on the proceeds of other persons' industry. 

From the land, Hastings turned his attention to the 
legal system of Bengal. Here again all was chaos. In 
Legal the original courts of India, the discretion of the 

Reform. judge was only bound by the Hindu scriptures 
and the commentaries upon them, by the customs of the 
country, and the interpretation put upon them by the 
Brahmans. The decisions were therefore often arbitrary, the 
interference of superiors frequent, and the whole procedure 
illogical. The rich went free, the poor paid a double penalty. 

But if the abuse was great while the power of the Mughal 
Empire was yet untouched, it was ten times worse when each 
petty province possessed its own ruler ; and it was aggra- 
vated during the first few years of the English conquest. No 
Enghshman would submit himself to the control of the native 
courts ; and since all power was in the hands of the English, 
the immediate efiect was to reduce the always inadequate 
laws to a nullity. 

No government worthy of the name could exist while this 
state of affairs continued, and Hastings set to work to bring 
at least some show of order into the Indian judicial system. 
His main idea is summarised in a note dated 24th March 1774, 
' There can be but one government and one power in this 


province/ Taking this as a guiding principle, a whole series 
of alterations was made. A council of control was set up, 
which had the right of revising the decisions of the lower 
courts. Two subsidiary courts, civil and penal, were appointed 
in each district. It was further ordained that a record of all 
the proceedings was to be made and preserved in every court. 
Exorbitant fines were prohibited. The judges had previ- 
ously drawn their salaries in the shape of commission on all 
property in htigation ; and this fruitful source of injustice 
and bribery was now abolished. At the seat of government 
there were established two supreme courts of appeal, which 
had power to review the decisions of all the inferior tribunals. 

But beneficent as these reforms were, they proved insuffi- 
cient, and in some ways, not altogether satisfactory. The 
lower courts were administered by natives : the superior 
courts by Englishmen. But the natives did not understand 
the principles of English law ; the English did not under- 
stand the principles of native law. Again, perjury was 
common in the courts of law to which Enghsh barristers 
had been accustomed at home ; but it was not that gross and 
detailed perjury which every witness swore on oath in an 
Indian court. Again, English ignorance of the manners, 
customs, ideas, and even the languages of India was pro- 
found ; yet in no walk of hfe is a knowledge of these more 
essential than in legal practice. 

It took years of further experiments before a satisfactory 
system was devised. The successor of Hastings found it neces- 
sary to place all the administration in Enghsh hands. In the 
nineteenth century a complete code was drawn up, and it has 
frequently been revised. Even now, after the continued 
improvements of over a hmidred years, it is admitted that 
justice often goes astray, so great is the difficulty of arriving 
at a right decision when every hired witness perjures him- 
self as few but Asiatics can ; and remembering these facts, we 
shall find no great cause for surprise that the judicial system 


set up by Warren Hastings did not give complete satisfac- 
tion. But at least it was an enormous improvement on the 
legal anarchy that had existed before his time ; the real 
matter for wonder is that it answered as well as it did, 

Hastings, however, was no Sir Oracle : he was fully aware 
of the imperfections in his work. At most it was done in 
a tentative, experimental fashion ; it was always open to 
revision and improvement. And during the whole thirteen 
years of his administration he was forming and carrying out 
fresh projects in the rural administration of the comitry. 

How much more he would have done had his hands been free 
it is impossible to conjecture : but his attention was con- 
tinually called away from the work of reform by the general 
affairs of his territories, the dissensions and enmity of his 
Council, the insistent demand for money and more money 
from the directors of the Company, and the external pohtics 
of that part of India which was not yet under British rule. 

So many were the demands upon his time, indeed, that 
at the end of his first six months as Governor he wrote home, 
in half-humorous despair : ' Here I am with arrears of months, 
and some of years to bring up ; with the courts of justice to 
set a-going ; with the official reformation to resume and 
complete ; with the current trifles of the day, notes, letters, 
personal apphcations ; every man's business of more con- 
sequence than any other, and complainants from every 
quarter of the province hallooing me by hundreds for justice 
as often as I put my head out of window, or venture abroad. ' 

Changes in the administration such as those outlined above 
transferred much power from native to Enghsh hands : but 
The Dual ^^ ^^^ ^^^ abolition of the dual system of govern- 
System ment that fuially consohdated the dominion of 

Aboiishe . ^j^g 'East India Company in Bengal. Here again 
Hastings introduced the wise principle, the necessity of which 
had now become evident, that one government should be 
supreme throughout the province. By the terms of dive's 


arrangement, a large part of the revenue receipts were paid 
back in bulk to the titular emperor at Delhi, and a yet larger 
part to the titular native prince at Murshidabad, a wretched 
creature whose whole attention and substance was given to 
his dancing-girls and to sensual indulgence. 

The first important step, the abolition of the dual govern- 
ment, was comparatively easy. Nearly the whole internal 
administration of Bengal had been delegated by the Company 
to a Musalman of high rank, of great talents, and of few 
scruples, one Muhammed Reza Khan. The lucrative and 
splendid ofl&ce which he filled was the object of many men's 
desire ; and no man desired it more than Nuncumar, a Hindu 
of enormous wealth and commanding position, who had 
played an important part in all the recent poHtical changes 
in Bengal. 

The deceitful and intriguing character of Nuncumar was 
well known to every EngHshman in Asia ; but, although his 
untrustworthiness was admittedly evident to the directors 
of the East India Company, the words of the agents he 
employed in Europe were accepted by them without reserve. 
He induced them to believe that the dismissal of Muhammed 
Reza IQian from his office would be to their advantage : 
and accordingly Hastings received orders privately from 
London to reheve Muhammed of his functions, to arrest 
him, his family, and his followers, and to institute a strict 
inquiry into the whole administration of Bengal. 

Hastings obeyed at once. The house of the doomed 
minister at Murshidabad was surrounded at midnight by 
sepoys ; he was awakened, and, with his suite, at once 
brought down to Calcutta. Hastings' fellow-members of 
the Council, who had only been in India a few days when 
the arrest was made, were not informed until the deed was 
done ; it is not probable that their objections would have 
weighed mth him in any case. The trial of Muhammed was 
delayed on specious pretexts for many months, during which 


time the dual system of government was abolished, the 
internal administration of Bengal was transferred to English 
servants of the Company, and the ofl&ce of minister, which 
Muhammed had held, and Nuncumar had coveted, was 
abolished altogether. 

The revolution being thus quickly completed, Hastings 
proceeded to investigate the charges against Muhammed 
Reza Khan. A lengthy inquiry into his conduct took 
place : he was finally pronounced innocent, and set at liberty. 
Soon afterwards, the allowance made by agreement to the 
Nawab of Bengal was reduced at a stroke from £320,000 a 
year to half that sum. By a similar agreement, the Mughal 
had also received a large annual sum from the Company 
in token of his sovereignty, and the districts of Korah and 
Allahabad had likewise been ceded to him. Hastings now 
declared, what was in fact correct, that the sovereignty was 
a fiction. It was, therefore, announced thatj for the future, 
no more tribute would be paid, and that the two provinces 
would be reclaimed. 

But these two provinces would have been unlikely to bring 
in any profit to the Company, and they would have been 
expensive to maintain withal. A convenient opportunity 
presented itself : the ruler of Oudh was anxious to extend 
his possessions ; a bargain was struck, and the districts of 
Korah and Allahabad were disposed of to him for some half 
a milhon sterling. 

The revolution was therefore accomplished, not only 
without a blow being struck, but in a manner that made it 
immediately profitable to the East India Company. And it 
was well for Warren Hastings that it was so, for the East 
India Company was now again in financial straits. 

The directors were sending urgent requests to the Governor- 
General by every ship, requests that were in reality commands ; 
and he knew that, in their eyes, his success or failure as a 
Governor largely depended on the number of thousands of 


rupees he sent home. His masters instructed him, indeed, 
to rule benevolently, to be a father to the people committed 
to his care ; oppression should no longer sully their adminis- 
tration, and tyranny was far from their thoughts ; but at 
the end of every moral discourse came the inevitable demand 
for money. 

Writing from the Company's London office in Leadenhall 
Street, without any personal acquaintance with the East, 
the directors were probably unaware — for they were passably 
honest men — of the inconsistence between their desire for 
good government and better dividends.^ Everybody in 
England at that day thought of India as a country roUing in 
wealth, and would have laughed to scorn any one who told 
them the contrary. Yet the contrary would have been the 
truth, in spite of the fortunes that had been brought home 
by the Company's servants. But to the directors it seemed 
an easy thing for their representative on the spot to send 
over another half million or million sterling a year ; and 
Hastings found it necessary to turn his attention to 
economies in every direction. 

The methods that he employed did not tend to elevate the 
fame of Britain in the East ; nor did they leave the name 
of Warren Hastings unsullied. We remember, it is true, 
his excellent administration in Bengal, and the promptitude 
with which he succoured Bombay and Madras in the hour 
of disaster ; but we are hkewise compelled to remember 
the Rohilla War, and the extortionate tribute exacted from 
Chait Sinh and the Begams of Oudh. 

The Kohillas were a brave but fickle tribe of military 
adventurers, full of the warlike fire and the predatory instincts 
of the Afghan races, who had settled in the district called after 

^ In 1766 the East India Company had unwisely I'aised its dividend 
from six to ten per cent. The directors disliked the idea, but were over- 
ruled by the General Court of Proprietors. The Company was heavily 
in debt at the time, and it was quite impossible to maintain so high a 
figure in subsequent years. 


them Rohilkliand.^ When the Mughal Empire had been in 
its vigour under the strong rule of Aurungzeb, their services 
The Rohiua ^^^ been well rewarded ; and they held their 
War, 1774. territories as military fiefs of the supreme head 
of India. In the anarchy that succeeded the death of that 
great monarch, they became practically independent ; but 
the Marathas had recently attacked them with success, and 
the Prince of Oudh, whose country was now also threatened 
by the Marathas, agreed to protect them against the common 

A treaty was made ; the Rohillas were protected. But 
they refused to pay the tribute which they had promised in 
the hour of danger ; and Suja Dowlah, the Prince of Oudh, 
determined to take possession of their country. 

Here, however, a difficulty presented itself. The Prince 
of Oudh doubted the ability of his own troops to perform the 
task ; and he suggested to Warren Hastings that the East 
India Company should lend him a sufficient force to conquer 
the Rohillas. The Governor-General demurred, although he 
admitted that there were powerful arguments in favour of 
reducing the Rohillas ; but after a time he consented. For 
forty lakhs of rupees, for four hundred thousand pounds 
sterhng, it was agreed that a division of the British Indian 
army should undertake a campaign against the Rohillas. 
It was further stipulated, with that careful precision which 
distinguished every act of Warren Hastings, that the full 
expenses of the campaign should be borne by Suja Dowlah. 

The work was begun. The British army in Bengal con- 
sisted of three brigades ; one was sent to join the forces 
of the Prince of Oudh. The Rohillas expostulated when 
they realised the fate that awaited them, but in vain. They 

1 Mr. G. W. Forrest's recently published Selections from the State Papers 
of the Oovernors-General of India are essential to an understanding of this 
campaign, where too many people — myself, I regret to admit, among 
others — have been misled by Macaulay's brilliant inaccuracies in the 
celebrated Essay on Warren Hastings. 


offered a large ransom. It was refused. They then deter- 
mined to defend themselves to the last. 

A terrible battle was fought. ' They gave proof/ said the 
English officer in command, ' of a good share of military 
knowledge ; and it is impossible to describe a more obstinate 
firmness of resolution than they displayed.' The day seemed 
doubtful, and the cowardly Suja Dowlah fled. But at 
length the Eohilla army was broken by the valour and science 
of the Europeans. The battle was lost, and with it the 
country which the Rohillas had made their own ; for the 
Prince of Oudh reappeared in the hour of victory, and his 
followers at once began to plunder and pillage. The original 
inhabitants of the country which the Rohillas had conquered 
seem to have been left undisturbed ; but the homes of the 
Rohillas were fired, and the men who were left ahve fled with 
their wives and children to the jungle, to the haunts of wild 
beasts and venomous serpents. 

In the plunder that followed the battle the British troops 
took no part ; but, as they watched the excesses of their 
native aUies, they were heard to grumble that ' we have had 
all the fighting, and these rogues are to have all the profit.' 

Not all, however ; for when the British troops returned 
to Bengal, the treasury of the East India Company was 
richer by forty lakhs of rupees. The treasury of the Company 
was replenished, but the honour of the Company and of its 
Governor was sullied ; for the employment of the British 
troops in the Rohilla campaign, which might have been 
justified if not very cordially approved had no pecuniary 
consideration been present in the background, became inde- 
fensible when they were hired as mercenaries by an ally.^ 

^ Putting aside the exaggerations of Burke and Macaulay, the crux of 
the inquiry into the justice or injustice of the Rohilla War evidently lies 
in the answer to the question, Would Hastings have allowed the British 
troops to participate in the campaign without payment for their services ? 
To that question there can be no precise answer ; but I do not think the 
answer is doubtful. Hastings obviously disliked the transaction ; but, 
apart from any political advantages, the money was a great considera 


The treasury of the East India Company was replenished. 
But only for a time ; in the later years of Hastings' adminis- 
The Conquest tration there were heavy war expenses to be met ; 
of Benares. g^j^(j j^g again cast about for a large and immediate 
supply of money. The Chait Sinh episode and the plmider 
of the Begams of Oudh was the result. Chait Sinh was 
Raja of Benares, the sacred city of the Hindus : and the 
tract of country of which Benares was the capital had come 
under the protection of the East India Company some years 
before, when the misrule of the Nawab of Oudh had oppressed 
all the neighbouring pro\nnces. The Raja was bound by 
treaty to send an annual tribute to Calcutta ; but in 1778, 
when Hastings again required money to meet the cost of the 
war which had just broken out with France, an additional 
sum of fifty thousand pounds was demanded from the subject 
prince. It was paid. The same contribution was exacted 
in the two subsequent years. 

Now Benares was a rich and weU-governed province, and 
its Raja a popular and able ruler. But the extraordinary 
tribute seemed about to become permanent ; and it would 
have been a considerable drain on the revenues of Chait Sinh. 
He therefore offered secretly a large bribe to Hastings, in 
hopes that the additional tribute would be excused. The 
Governor-General after some hesitation accepted the money, 
and paid it over to the Company ; but he still insisted on 
both the regular contribution and the extraordinary sum. 
Chait Sinh pleaded poverty ; and Hastings at once added a 

tion. And the Select Committee repoited 'that 'the terms proposed 
appear highly advantageous to the Compauy, not only on account of the 
8um which is ultimately stipulated as a consideration for this service, but 
by immediately relieving them from the heavy expense of a large part of 
their army. Provided, therefore, full assurance and security can be 
obtained of the Vizier's intention and ability to make good the many 
payments which will in this event be due to the Company : Resolved that 
the Second Brigade now quartered at Dinapore lie ordered to march on 
the Vizier's requisition.' {Secret Select Committee's Proceedings, 26th 
November 1773 ; quoted by G. W. Forrest.) The financial aspect of the 
transaction was evidently uppermost in the minds of the Committee. 


fine of ten thousand pounds for contumacy. The money- 
was paid. But still the Company's treasury was dry. Hastings 
therefore picked a quarrel with the Raja, and insisted on half 
a million sterhng. 

To secure prompt payment he came on a visit to Benares, 
and was received by the subject prince with every mark of 
reverence. Chait Sinh excused himself, and justly, from 
giving way to the extortion ; Hastings at once placed him 
under arrest. 

But the British force which had accompanied the Governor- 
General was small ; it was in a foreign province ; and the 
inhabitants of that province were very different men from 
the unwarhke Bengahs. An insurrection broke out ; the 
Enghsh and their sepoys were almost exterminated, and 
Chait Sinh escaped. 

Hastings was left in a position of grave peril, with less than 
fifty men at his back ; the building in which they were en- 
trenched was surrounded on all sides by the enemy ; and the 
whole population of Benares had risen to defend its prince 
against the tyrant. 

Not for an instant, however, did the cool courage of Hast- 
ings desert him. Messengers were sent to expedite the arrival 
of the Enghsh troops from Bengal : in the meantime, the little 
band at Benares kept up a stubborn defence. The British 
army came up-comitry at forced marches to the aid of their 
beloved Governor-General : the disorderly le%'ies of the Raja 
were easily defeated ; Chait Sinh fled in despair, and never 
returned ; and the province of Benares was included in the 
territories of the East India Compan}'. 

The conquest added an important country and another two 
hmidred thousand sterling annually to the British revenues. 
But the immediate rehef to the treasury was The oucm 
small, and the expenses of the war were growing I'l'iiider. 
ever greater. Hastings was forced to turn elsewhere for yet 
further supplies. To a not very scrupulous and desperate 



man, aware of his own strength and the weakness of those 
among whom he was placed, it was not difficult to find another 
object of plunder. 

There were two ancient ladies, the mother of the late and 
the mother of the existing Nawab of Oudh, who were known 
as the Begams or Princesses of Oudh. The revenue and the 
administration of that country were in their hands, and they 
were generally known to be enormously wealthy. 

Here, then, was the opportunity : the pretext was soon 
forthcoming. Hastings declared himself convinced that the 
late disturbances in Benares had been fomented by them : 
and they were condemned to pay the penalty of an enormous 
fine. They protested ; but their protests were disregarded. 
The princesses were confined to their rooms, and their food 
was hmited. Two eunuchs in their service were tortured. 
Month after month the extortion was continued, until at last 
even Hastings reaHsed that there was no more to be obtained. 
They were therefore restored to liberty ; but the treasury of 
the Company had in the meantime been enriched by twelve 
hundred thousand pounds. 

It would be superfluous to comment on these proceedings, 
save to remark that their only mitigation is that they did 
not spring from private greed ; and that, had not the require- 
ments of the East India Company necessitated money from 
any and every available source, Hastings would certainly 
never have stooped to such methods of obtaining it. It is, 
however, impossible to refrain from noticing that even in his 
extortion he showed wisdom, Benares and Oudh were 
plundered ; but the Governor-General never touched his 
own people in Bengal. He thought it better that the booty 
should be obtained from strangers, rather than that the 
province for which he was pecuharly responsible should 
suffer ; and the result was that when, some years later, Burke 
was thundering in Westminster Hall against his cruelty to 
the Indians, his humanity was a proverb among the Bengalis, 


and Hindu mothers sang their children to sleep with a lullaby 
of the glorious deeds of the great and good Warren Hastings. 

The difficulties, indeed, with which he had to contend in 
Bengal were of a difierent character. The Regulating Act, 
passed by the British Parliament in 1773, had Dissensions 
come into force. By it Hastings was appointed witn tiie 
first Governor-General of Bengal, with control °"'^°^^- 
over the other two presidencies ; and he was to be assisted 
by four Councillors. Of these four, one was already in India, 
and he generally supported his chief in the subsequent dis- 

The other three came direct from England : and with the 
captious spirit that marked their whole subsequent bearing, 
they had no sooner landed at Calcutta than they began to 
complain. It seemed throughout that their main idea was to 
harass and not to assist Hastings in the government of India. 

A few months after their arrival he summed them up 
tersely but accurately : ' The General (Clavering) rummages 
the consultations for disputable matter. Monson receives, 
and I have been assured descends even to sohcit, accusations. 
Francis writes.' Led by the latter, who from the first was a 
bitter and uncompromising opponent of Hastings, they had 
the majority in the Council : and they straightway proceeded 
to inquii'e into aU, and to undo as much as possible, of the 
administrative work which the Governor-General had accom- 
pHshed in previous years. Hastings was powerless ; though 
head of the Council, he was forced to submit to their demands. 

Their deeds were of Httle advantage to the country. ' The 
efiect of their reforms,' says Macaulay, ' was that all protec- 
tion to fife and property was withdrawn, and that gangs of 
robbers plundered and slaughtered with impunity in the very 
suburbs of Calcutta.' 

The natives were quick to mark the changed position ; and 
accusations against Hastings began to pour in from those 
who hoped to curry favour with the new Council. They 


were all received witli alacrity ; whether believed or not, 
the charges were acted upon. Hastings indignantly but 
rightly refused to preside at a Council whose members pre- 
sumed to sit in judgment upon him, and whose personal vin- 
dictiveness was evident to all the other English residents in 
the presidency ; and after a violent altercation, he left the 

The worst accusation against the Governor-General had 
been brought by Nuncumar. The two men had never been 
friends, even in early days at Murshidabad ; and since Hastings 
had used the Hindu as a tool in deposing Muhammed Reza 
Khan and abolishing the dual government, Nuncumar had 
hated the Governor of Bengal with the cunning patient hate 
that can await the day of reckoning for years. With the 
arrival of Sir Philip Francis came at last the opportunity he 
sought. He charged Hastings with putting ofl&ces up to 
sale, with taking bribes and conniving at the escape of 
criminals, and with other equally serious offences. 

Francis eagerly accepted the accusations, which Nuncumar 
professed himself ready to prove beyond the shadow of doubt ; 
but when he was called upon to do so, he was unable to pro- 
duce the evidence upon which his charges rested. The failure 
of so vindictive an enemy to substantiate his accusations 
against Hastings is a sufficient proof of the baselessness of 
his charges. 

But the end of Nuncumar's long career was now near at 
hand. An old accusation of forgery was still hanging over 
his head, for which he had been imprisoned for contempt of 
court and released by Hastings some time before the Council 
had arrived in India ; and the trial had stood over for the 
consideration of the Supreme Court of Judicature in Bengal, 
the new Judicial Court which had been set up by the Regu- 
lating Act of 1773. 

The judges of that Court had now arrived in India ; and 
Nuncumar was brought before them in due course. There 


can be little doubt that Francis and his supporters on the 
Council would have prevented the trial of the enemy of 
Hastings had it been within their power to do so ; but the 
Regulating Act had placed the administration of justice 
beyond the control of the Council. 

On the 8th June 1775 the trial of Nuncumar began before 
Chief- Justice Impey, three other judges of the Supreme Court, 
and a jury. The case had aroused enormous interest, and 
the old Mayor's Court of Calcutta was crowded with spec- 
tators ; for Nuncumar had been a leading man in Bengal 
for many years past, and his recent accusations against the 
Governor-General were known to the public. 

The trial was prolonged for several days, for the case was 
difficult and complicated. The evidence was intricate ; and 
the fact that it was necessary to interpret it continually 
delayed the proceedings. Many of the witnesses for the 
defence were evidently perjuring themselves ; and the judges, 
who were unaccustomed to the gross perjury that prevails 
in the East, were compelled to examine them somewhat 

But at length the case drew to a close. Chief- Justice Impey 
began his charge to the jury, and he was about to direct them 
to acquit the prisoner when Nuncumar demanded that one of 
his witnesses should be recalled. The request was allowed ; 
but the accused, who had wished to fortify his case by further 
evidence, had unknowingly wrought his own ruin. The de- 
meanour of the witness was suspicious ; his evidence was 
palpably false ; and the case for the defence broke down 

The jury, after proper direction, consulted together in 
private ; Nuncumar was found guilty, and sentenced to death. 
The condemned criminal appealed with piteous entreaty to 
Francis ; but Francis did not move a finger to succour the 
man whose accusations he had been so ready to accept ; and 
Nuncumar was executed. 


By the evidence of tlie case and the letter of the English 
law, he was certainly guilty of the ofience with which he was 
charged. And the extreme sentence of the Enghsh law for 
forgery at that time was death, although the capital penalty 
was not always enforced even in England. But the English 
law had only recently been introduced in India, and forgery 
was considered a venial crime in the East. 

These considerations might have been urged on behalf of 
Nuncumar ; but they were not. For the interest which 
Calcutta had taken in the case had little to do with the 
abstract theory of law ; it had little to do even with the actual 
guilt of Nuncumar. The popular interest was due to the fact 
that Nuncumar and Hastings were deadly enemies, and that 
Hastings stood alone in Bengal, while Nuncumar had the 
support of the Comicil. The acquittal of Nuncumar would 
therefore have been regarded as a convincing proof that the 
Governor-General had lost his power in Bengal, and accusa- 
tions against him would have been multiphed by the thou- 
sand. The condemnation and execution of Nuncumar, on 
the other hand, were at once taken as a signal victory of 
Hastings over his powerful enemy. 

The coincidence between the accusation which Nuncumar 
had brought against Hastings, and the execution of Nuncumar 
so shortly afterwards was at least suspicious ; and many of 
the enemies of Hastings, in England as well as in Bengal, 
beheved that he had instigated the prosecution of Nuncumar 
before the Supreme Court, and that he had influenced the sen- 
tence which was passed upon the forger. But no satisfactory 
evidence in support of that supposition has ever been dis- 
covered ; and although determined attempts have been made 
to manufacture the evidence that was not forthcoming, and 
to blacken the character of Judge Impey in order to reflect 
on Hastings, these attempts have all been shown to be 

But if Hastings was innocent of tampering with the course 


of justice the execution of Nuncumar had served him in good 
stead. From that day there were no more accusations, true 
or false, brought against him before the Council. 

And in time he was once more master of Bengal. One of 
the members of the Council died ; and by his own vote, his 
casting vote as Governor, and the vote of his old supporter 
from the first, Hastings could now override the malice of his 
opponents. Sir Philip Francis indeed continued to grumble, 
to criticise, and to interfere ; but now that he was in a 
minority, he was harmless. 

One last quarrel there was. ' I do not,' said Hastings at 
one of the meetings, ' trust to Mr. Francis' promises of candour, 
convinced that he is incapable of it. I judge of his public 
conduct by his private, which I have found to be void of truth 
and honour.' The harsh words were thoroughly justified, 
but a challenge naturally followed ; and Hastings was im- 
prudent enough to risk his life in a duel, in which, however, 
Francis was wounded. 

The latter recovered, and formal meetings continued at 
the Council Board ; but Francis soon afterwards returned to 
England, where, from his seat in the House of Commons, he 
continued to declaim against Hastings and all his work in 
India with unabated vigour and unceasing hate. When 
the Governor-General finally returned from Bengal, Francis 
was one of the chief agitators for his impeachment ; but for 
the remainder of the great administrator's career in the East, 
the malice of his opponent touched him no more.^ 

Thus victorious over his enemy on the Council, Hastings 
disavowed the resignation that, in a moment of ihe imperial 
despair, he had instructed his agent in London Danger, 
to hand to the East India Company ; and though he was 

^ Sir Philip Francis died, as he had lived, a disappointed and bitter 
man. It had been his ambition to be appointed (Joveruor-General of 
India, and he continued for many years to hope that the post would be 
oflFered to him ; but happily for the British Empire in India, his desire 
was not gratified. 


censured both by his employers and by Parhament for his 
arbitrary acts, neither the directors of the Company nor the 
ministers of the Crown were prepared to dismiss him. The 
dangers then threatening the Empire on all sides were far 
too serious to allow of one of its foremost men being recalled 
to answer for his crimes, however great those crimes were 
believed to be. 

The crisis was indeed a terrible one. The English colonies 
in America were in revolt, and the British armies were not 
victorious against them. France had been quick to seize the 
opportunity, and had declared war against her neighbour. 
Spain had followed France. Everywhere Britain seemed 
about to lose those magnificent conquests which had been 
made under the first Pitt ; everywhere, that is, but in India. 
And even in India the situation was black enough. The 
news of our defeats in the West might reach the East at any 
time ; a native rebellion would follow as a matter of course. 
There were already many indications of local unrest. The 
French were known to have designs on India : and their 
capacity as leaders of native levies and as rulers of other 
races had already been well proved. So long as a states- 
man of the capacity of Warren Hastings remained at the 
head of affairs, there was a reasonable probability of safety 
in the East : if he were removed, it was a matter of chance 
whether a second Chve would step into the breach. Hast- 
ings, therefore, though censured by his employers for those 
deeds which he would not have committed but for their 
continual demands for money, and though blamed by Parlia- 
ment for acts to which he was driven by those Councillors 
whom Parliament itself had approved, was suffered to remain 
Governor-General of India. His countrymen generously 
refrained from putting Hastings on trial until after he had 
saved the Empire for them. 

Meanwhile, a complicated series of events had already 
led up to the outbreak of the first important war since the 


departure of Clive from the East. The Marathas were the 
great military confederation of the Hindus ; and since their 
rise in the seventeenth century on the ruins of .^.j^g p^^.^^, 
the Mughal Empire, there were few parts of India Maratha 
that had not felt their power. 

About the year 1634, when the whole government of the 
peninsula was in confusion, an adventurer had begun to play 
a conspicuous part in the struggles of the Deccan. In his 
own district he quickly became supreme. Native levies 
formed his armies, and a primitive but terrible warfare was 
waged. The neighbouring peasants, of whom his troops 
mainly consisted, were called together at the slacker periods 
of the agricultural year, and armed and mounted by him ; 
and they swept down upon their enemies, who for the 
purposes of plunder were anybody whose possessions were 
great enough to be attractive. Part of the booty was made 
over to the victorious peasant-soldiery, who returned well- 
rewarded to their homes ; part remained to the leader of this 
strange army, who retired to his strongholds in the hills 
until necessity or humour should prompt another raid. 

Such was the beginning of the great Maratha confederation. 
The system grew and flourished ; a number of kings or chiefs 
arose in various parts of India, loosely alHed in common 
defence ; and later the general centre of the community was 
estabUshed at Poona. 

When the mihtary head of the confederation sank, as did 
the autocrat of every Asiatic monarchy after two or three 
generations, into an effeminate and slothful fop, caring only 
to Hve in luxury, to toy with dancing-girls and to chew 
bhang, the nominal chieftainship was still vested in him ; 
but the real rulers of the Marathas from that time were the 
Peshwas, whose position as mayors of the palace at Poona 
was much the same as that of the masters of the French 

Towards the middle of the eighteenth century, however, 


the strength of the Marathas decUned somewhat, and they 
could no longer continue altogether successfully their old 
poHcy of balancing the power of the great potentates of 
the north of India against the growing Musalman States 
of the south in Haidarabad and Mysore. But they were 
still a formidable foe. In the year 1742 they invaded and 
plundered Bengal as far as Murshidabad ; and the terror 
of the English residents of Calcutta lest their city also should 
fall a prey to the robbers was shown by the great semicircular 
moat which was hurriedly constructed, and which is still 
known by the name of the ' Maratha ditch.* 

But when Clive had consohdated the British power in 
Bengal, the Marathas were no longer able to menace that 
rich province ; in 1761 they were defeated in a great battle 
by the Mohammedans ; and from that day they seemed 
doomed to gradual decay and extinction, as numberless 
other similar confederations had decayed and died out before 

In these circumstances, it is not surprising that the British 
Council at Bombay, wishing with pardonable enthusiasm to 
emulate the policy of expansion so successfully pursued by 
Chve and Hastings in Bengal, should have decided to place 
their own creature on the throne of Poona. The Treaty of 
Surat was the consequence of a long continuance of diplomatic 
intrigues between Bombay and Poona ; the aim of the 
British was apparently achieved, and their nominee reigned 
for a time over the Marathas. 

But not for long was he suffered to remain in quiet posses- 
sion. The military confederation of Western India was of 
a different character from the supple and enfeebled BengaHs ; 
and war soon broke out between the Marathas and the 
British, which the Bombay presidency found itself ill-equipped 
to wage successfully. 

The Treaty of Surat had been disapproved by Warren 
Hastings from the moment he heard of it ; he foresaw that 


it would merely result in embittering the constant disputes 
between the Marathas and the Government of Bombay into 
war. And there were already rumours of French intrigues 
with the Court of Poona, of French promises to assist the 
Marathas against the English, of French schemes to set up 
a second Empire in the East. 

But when war broke out between the Marathas and Bombay, 
England and France were still nominally at peace. The 
situation was a delicate one ; but Hastings immediately 
sent the whole force of the Bengal army to the aid of 
Bombay ; and when shortly afterwards the news arrived 
by letter from the British Consul at Cairo that the long- 
expected war with France had broken out, the few remaining 
French settlements in Bengal were seized, and instructions 
were sent to Madras that Pondicherri should be occupied - 
at once. MiKtary works were thrown up near Calcutta ; 
arrangements were made for the defence of the river Hugh ; 
nine new battaKons of sepoys were raised, and a corps of 
native artillery were formed of the Lascars from the Bay of 

The practical genius of Hastings was shown by these steps : 
and, so far as Bengal was concerned, he could now await 
the war with calmness, unless a large French force should 
arrive and join itself with the Marathas, and possibly also 
with the two great Mohammedan powers of the south, 
Haidarabad and Mysore — a somewhat unHkely contingency. 

But in Bombay the position was more difl&cult. The 
British army that was stationed in that presidency had been 
surrounded by the Marathas, and forced to agree to a 
humiliating convention at Wargaum ; and the troops which 
had been sent from Bengal had to undertake a long and 
perilous journey through the peninsula from coast to coast 
before they could be of assistance. 

But Goddard, who was in charge of the latter contingent, 
succeeded in forcing his way across India, and, in addition, 


seized the great province of Guzerat almost without striking 
a blow. Captain Popham, too, attempted and achieved a 
feat which even the daring Sir Eyre Coote stigmatised as 
' absolute madness ' ; he attacked by storm, and captured, 
the rock-fortress of Gwalior, which had been called the key 
of India. 

The effect of these victories, and especially of this last 
brilliant exploit, on the natives, must have been great ; and 
Hastings began to question whether it would not be advis- 
able to crush the whole dangerous Maratha confederation in 
one struggle, and to bring all the States loosely alUed under 
that name to acknowledge the paramount British authority, 
before permitting peace to be made. Gwalior was already 
in English hands ; but the capital of Poona was still the seat 
of the Peshwas ; and the other three centres of Maratha 
power, Indore, Baroda, and Nagpur, were as yet untouched. 

It would have been a happy thing for British India had 
the Governor-General been able to carry out his idea of over- 
throwing the Maratha States ; for they remained a menace 
for many years afterwards, and were only conquered eventu- 
ally after two long^nd arduous wars in 'the next century. 
But after the first onslaught, the British found themselves 
opposed with a resolution which, if it did not result in their 
defeat, at least checked their advance : and for long the 
contest remained undecided. 

Eventually the first Maratha War was concluded tamely 
in the year 1782 by the Treaty of Salbai. The British 
dominions were enlarged by the retention of Salsette, with 
Elephanta and two other small islands ; but except for these 
wretched acquisitions — poor reward for three years' fighting 
— the status quo was restored. The conflict, profitless at 
best, had made considerable demands on the British Indian 
revenues, which Warren Hastings found it difficult to 
replenish : he had long been sick of a war which was not of 
his making, and which he had disapproved from the first ; 


and when the new and terrible name of Haidar Ali of Mysore 
began to be heard from end to end of India as that of the 
most formidable native foe the Enghsh had ever had to 
encounter in the peninsula, he hastened to make peace with 
the Marathas on the best terms he could. 

To Hastings, indeed, was unjustly given the blame of the 
war having occurred at all. ' The Maratha War has been, 
and is yet, called mine, God knows why,' he complained in 
1780 ; ' I was forced into it. It began with the acts of others 
unknown to me. Perhaps the war with Haidar may be, 
in Uke manner, called my war.' ^ 

The Government of Bombay had been too forward in trying 
to extend its possessions ; the Government of Madras had 
pursued a policy the exact reverse. The result The First 
was the same in both cases, a prolonged and profit- Mysore War. 
less war ; but as the penalties of daring are commonly less 
than those of timidity, so was the war with the Marathas 
insignificant in comparison to that with Mysore. The Govern- 
ment of Madras had been for years notorious for its feeble 

^ The policy of Hastings was essentially pacific ; it cannot be better 
defined than in his own words : ' The land required years of quiet to 
restore its population and culture ; and all my acts were acts of peace. 
I was busied in raising a great and weighty fabric, of which all the parts 
were yet loose, and destitute of the superior weight which was to give 
them their support, and, if I may so express myself, their collateral 
strength. A tempest or an earthquake could not be more fatal to a 
builder whose walls were uncovered, and his unfinished columns trembling 
in the breeze, than the ravages or terrors of war to me and all my 
hopes. ... I should have sought no accession of territory. I should 
have rejected the offer of any position which would have enlarged our line 
of defence, without a more than proportionate augmentation of defensive 
strength and revenue. I should have encouraged, but not solicited, new 
alliances. . . . These I should have observed as my religion. . . . Biit 
though I profess the doctrine of peace, I by no means pretend to have 
followed it with so implicit a devotion as to make sacrifices to it. I have 
never yielded a substantial right which I could assert, or submitted to 
a wrong wliich I couid repel with a moral assurance of success . . . and 
I can allude to instances in which I should have deemed it criminal not 
to have hazarded both the public safety and my own, in a crisis of 
uncommon and adequate emergency, or in an occasion of dangerous 
example.' The singularly graceful literary style in which Hastings wrote 
justified his old master at Westminster School, who had wished him to 
devote his life to letters. 


and irresolute character. Wlien Dupleix was dreaming of a 
French Asiatic Empire at Pondicherri, the English at Madras 
saw nothing beyond their ledgers. CHve saved them on that 
occasion ; and when, a few years later, peril again threatened 
them, they could do nothing for themselves, but insisted on 
his immediate return from Bengal to succour them. They 
were for ever sending plaintive accounts of their troubles to 
London. In 1770 they wrote to the directors that ' to give 
you a clear representation of the dangers and embarrass- 
ments through which we have been strugghng ... is a task 
beyond our abilities.' The next year it was ' with infinite 
concern the Committee observed that notwithstanding their 
repeated and earnest representations to the Court of Directors 
... we still find ourselves not only without orders, but without 
the least intimation of their opinion thereon.' They could do 
nothing without extraneous advice ; and when by chance they 
made a move alone, they blundered. In the uncertain state 
of India in the eighteenth century, a crisis was certain sooner 
or later to confront every European settlement ; but when- 
ever one confronted Madras, the English Council there invari- 
ably proved themselves incompetent to deal with it. 

It was through their egregious folly that war was pro- 
voked with Haidar Ali, Sultan of Mysore ; and it was on 
their culpably defenceless presidency that there descended, 
in Burke's magnificent phrase, ' the black cloud that hung 
for a while on the dechvities of the mountains, the menacing 
meteor which blackened all the horizon until it suddenly 
burst, and poured down the whole of its contents upon the 
plains of the Karnatic' 

Some thirty years previously, when the fall of the Mughal 

Empire had given India over to anarchy, a Musalman 

adventurer had begun to distinguish himself in 

the wars of the South. His ancestry was mean ; 

his grandfather had been a wandering dervish, his father a 

petty revenue officer. He himself had received no educa- 


tion ; he could not even read the alphabet. But as a soldier 
of fortune he made his way rapidly ; as a general, none could 
equal him. In the then condition of India, it was no great 
step from head of an army to ruler of a province, and from 
that again to autocrat of a kingdom ; and Haidar Ah, after 
having passed through these prehminary grades, in course of 
time became Sultan of Mysore. 

What he had been ambitious enough to obtain he was 
clever enough to keep. A crowd of lesser men continued to 
struggle among themselves for other parts of India ; but few 
were able to touch Mysore while Haidar ruled it. He oppressed 
his people : but no minor parasites were allowed to fatten at 
their expense ; and on the whole he ruled firmly and well, and 
was looked up to by his subjects with respect, perhaps with 

It was this man whom the Government of Madras pro- 
voked to war. He had already fought not unsuccessfully 
with the English ; but some years previously, when the 
Marathas had invaded his dominions, he had sought an alliance 
with Madras ; and his overtures had been rejected. A little 
later, he had again opened negotiations for the same purpose ; 
and again he had been repulsed. 

From that time, the Sultan of Mysore had looked to the 
French for aid. Intercourse became friendly between Haidar 
and the authorities at Pondicherri. French adventurers 
trained and led his troops ; the arms and military stores of 
Mysore were suppHed by France. When war broke out 
between England and France, the feeble French settlement at 
Pondicherri was reduced at once ; and Haidar, as a matter 
of appearance, congratulated the British on their success. 
But he took care at the same time to declare that he would 
be ofiended if Mahe, the remaining French settlement on the 
opposite coast, was captured ; and he threatened that, if it 
were, he would invade the Karnatic. 

His words were disregarded, and Mahe was taken by the 


British. Burning with resentment, and with a keen memory 
of the continued refusal of the Madras Council to ally 
themselves with him, and with a yet keener recollection 
of agreements which they had broken, Haidar prepared for 

He was now an old man ; but there was no sign of age in 
his movements. He first made peace with his perpetual 
enemies, the Marathas. An alliance was concluded with his 
neighbour, the Nizam of Haidarabad. The two most power- 
ful Musalman powers of Southern India thus united, Haidar 
prepared for the attack. The army of Mysore had been 
steadily enlarged during the past two years, and it was now 
ready for immediate service. The mihtary stores which he 
had obtained from France were requisitioned. 

Part of the army was moved to the border of Mysore, where 
it looked down over the wild descent which led into the flat 
Karnatic beneath ; and the road to one of the principal passes 
was already being cleared. 

All these preparations were known to the English at Madras ; 
of many they had been aware for some time. Yet nothing 
was done to protect the important British interests in the 
Karnatic. ' What can we do ? ' asked the Governor of the 
presidency feebly, * we have no money, but we mean to 
assemble an army.' 

The next day the news arrived that Porto Novo and the 
district within fifty miles of Madras had been plundered ; 
that Haidar 's army was a hundred thousand strong ; that 
a corps of Frenchmen were among his auxiliaries. 

And wherever the army of Haidar went, it brought ruin and 
destruction. The houses were fired, the crops destroyed ; 
the people fled to the mountains and the forests. The whole 
of the Karnatic seemed about to be destroyed. 

Nor was this all. A few days later Madras itself was 
threatened ; and many of the English merchants took refuge 
in Fort St. George, for the country around was in the hands 


of Haidar, and the sight of the burning villages in the vicinity 
inspired awful forebodings as to the fate of the capital. 

Suddenly, however, Haidar determined to capture Arcot 
before attempting Madras ; and he immediately attacked 
and took that fortress. Meanwhile the presidential govern- 
ment was in a miserable condition. They had no money, 
and the neighbouring princes pleaded poverty when a loan 
was desired. An army indeed there was ; but the British 
ofl&cers were ignorant of Haidar 's movements, while every 
act of theirs was conveyed to him at once by the natives. 
The troops were in two detachments ; each was attacked 
separately by Haidar : both were defeated. One was 
destroyed ; the other fled. 

Nothing now lay between Madras and destruction. The 
Enghsh who were there were not the men to rise superior to 
their difficulties, and to organise victory out of defeat. With 
the exception of a few forts, which still offered resistance, 
the whole south of India was in the hands of Haidar Ah. 

No help could be expected from England, for England was 
herself in sore straits ; and, in any case, any help that might 
have been sent from Europe would have arrived too late. In 
Warren Hastings' emphatic expression, ' the Company's exist- 
ence . . . vibrated to the edge of perdition, and it has at all 
times been suspended by a thread so fine that the touch of 
chance might break, or the breath of opinion dissolve it : 
and instantaneous will be its faU whenever it shall happen.' 
And it was Hastings, in fact, who again saved the Company 
at this crisis. 

A swift ship carried the news of the Mysore outbreak from 
Madras to Calcutta ; and within twenty-four hours tlie 
Governor-General of Bengal had thought out a complete 
new plan of policy, adapted to the altered condition of affairs. 
Every nerve must be strained to preserve the Karnatic for 
the empire. The Maratha War had been important ; it was 
now only a secondary consideration. Fifteen lakhs of rupees, 



and all the available troops of Bengal, were sent to Madras ; 
some difficulty only occurring with the sepoys, whose reUgion 
did not permit them to travel by sea. Sir Phihp Francis, 
indeed, raised objections in the Council Room : he would have 
sent only half the money, and no military aid at all. But 
the day when he could seriously embarrass Hastings was 
over ; and his suggestions, which if carried out would in- 
evitably have lost the Karnatic, were disregarded. But this 
was not all. The Governor of Fort St. George was evidently 
utterly incompetent ; and Hastings, by a bold exercise of 
power, determined to suspend him. Sir Eyre Coote was 
despatched to take charge of all the operations against Haidar 

Coote was now past his prime, and his constitution was 
undermined by disease ; but he had still much of the great 
abiUty which he had shown at Wandewash. He reached 
Madras on 5th November 1780 ; and so httle time had been 
lost by Hastings in organising relief that the French fleet 
which it had been feared would intercept the British trans- 
ports had not yet arrived. 

On 17th January 1781 Coote marched northwards, hoping 
to draw Haidar in pursuit. He succeeded ; but Haidar, with 
considerable cunning, drew the Enghsh general further inland 
by threatening Cuddalur, and then swung round and inter- 
posed his army between Coote and the British base of action 
at Madras. 

Coote retreated to Porto Novo, near the coast ; but his 
position was now precarious in the extreme. His whole 
army was only six thousand sepoys and two thousand English, 
while Haidar was forty thousand strong. If Coote were 
defeated, the loss of Madras was certain ; and even Hastings 
could not improvise another army to reconquer the Karnatic. 

In these circumstances, the Sultan of Mysore expected an 
easy victory ; and Coote determined to give battle. Indeed, 
he could do nothing else ; and one who had been present as 


a young man at Plassey would not fear to fight against odds, 
even though the army he had now to encounter was led by a 
very different man from the supine Nawab of Murshidabad. 
On 1st July 1781 the great battle of Porto Novo took place, 
and Haidar Ali was utterly defeated. 

Coote followed up his successes by further attacks on the 
remnants of Mysorean power in the Karnatic ; until, com- 
pletely worn out, his health gave way, and he was forced to 
return to Calcutta. Even then he still wished to serve his 
country ; and at the earhest possible moment, long indeed 
before he was fit for work, he went back again to Madras. 

But although Coote was no more than fifty-seven years of 
age, the brave man^s body was exhausted by his long and 
arduous life in the field ; and in 1783, two days after his 
arrival at the southern capital, he died. Sir Eyre Coote 
was not, and would never have thought of placing himself, 
in the same rank held by men Hke Chve ; but in the annals 
of our Indian Empire the victor of Wandewash and Porto 
Novo holds no inconspicuous place, as the mihtary saviour 
on two distinct occasions of British power in the south. 

In the meantime. Lord Macartney, the new Governor of 
Madras, had arrived ; and overtures for peace were made to 
Haidar Ah. They were rejected ; and in the words of the 
Sultan's reply we can see much of the reason for his bitter, 
but not unfounded, enmity against the British. ' The governors 
and sirdars who enter into treaties return after one or two 
years to Europe,' he wrote ; ' and their acts and deeds 
become of no effect ; fresh governors and sirdars introduce 
new considerations. Prior to your coming, when the Governor 
and Council of Madras had departed from their treaty of 
alliance and friendship, I sent to confer with them, and to 
ask the reason for such a breach of faith. The answer given 
was, that they who made those conditions had gone to Europe. 
You write that you have come with the sanction of the King 
and the Company to settle all matters, which gives me great 


happiness. You, sir, are a man of wisdom, and comprehend 
all things. Whatever you may judge proper and best, that 
you will do. You mention that troops have arrived, and 
are daily arriving from Europe. Of this I have no doubt ; 
I depend on the favour of God for my successes.' The in- 
competence of the Madras administration, the lack of con- 
tinuity in their policy, the absence indeed of any real policy 
at all, the wretched nature of the excuses put forward for 
breaking their word, could not have been more forcibly 

Nothing could bring Haidar Ali to trust in their professions 
again, for he had no reason to do so ; and he continued the 
war, albeit without much success, till his death in 1782. 
Even then it did not end ; Tipii, his son and heir, who had 
already helped his father against the English, continued the 
contest, assisted by fresh supplies from France. In the follow- 
ing year, however, peace was concluded between France and 
England, and Tipu was forced from now to depend upon his 
own resources ; and the first Mysore War quickly drew to a 
close in 1784, a mutual restitution of all conquests being the 
basis of peace. 

The long administration of Hastings was likewise drawing 
to a close ; and the last few months during which he held 
Eetirement office were quiet and uneventful, in strange con- 
of Hastings, trast to the turmoil of the previous twelve years. 
^"^ ' There was peace in India ; there was peace in 

Europe. Haidar Ali was dead ; and there was no reason to 
fear any fui'ther attacks from the French. The opposition 
that now confronted Hastings in the Council at Calcutta was 
weak and ineffectual. 

At length, in the spring of 1785, he sailed from India, to 
the accompaniment of many marks of genuine sorrow from 
both the natives and the English : expecting to receive at 
home the honours and rewards he had earned by such splendid 
services, and to retire at last to that ancestral estate at 


Daylesford, of whose acquisition lie had dreamed since his 


Daylesford indeed he acquired ; but instead of being 

honoured, he was reviled by his countrymen. The burning 

words he addressed to Parliament when summoned 

T c -, 1 ■ ■ 11- T • 1-n His Reward, 

to defend his actions and his poncy m the Jiast 

are eloquent of the bitterness which his reception caused 

him. ' I enlarged/ he said, ' and gave shape and consistency ■ 

to the dominion you held there ; I preserved it ; I sent forth 

its armies with an effectual but economical hand, through 

unknown and hostile regions, to the support of your other 

possessions ; to the retrieval of one from degradation and 

dishonour, and of the other from loss and subjection. I 

maintained the wars which were of your formation, or 

that of others, not of mine. ... I gave you all : and you 

have rewarded me with confiscation, disgrace, and a life of 




We have already seen that Parliament had, at various times, 
intervened in the afiairs of the East India Company. On 
a strict interpretation of the letter of the law, the House of 
Commons had perhaps no constitutional right to touch on 
matters of this nature. The associations of adventurers 
received their charters from the Crown alone. Their business 
lay in foreign lands, and all foreign questions were, in a 
pecuKar degree, the prerogative of the Crown. Neither the 
Tudors nor the Stuarts recognised the right of Parliament 
to intervene between the Crown and those to whom it had 

^ Authorities. — As before, with the additional parliamentary records 
of the time. Especially important are the biographies of Clive, Hastings, 
Cornwallis, and the British statesmen of the period. The pamphlets on 
Indian affairs are again useful. Hunter and Mill for India itself. 


granted charters : nevertheless, as a matter of policy, or 
convenience, or sometimes under protest, they allowed it. 

On its side Parliament had no doubt of its right of inter- 
ference. A charter to trade conferred a monopoly of trade 
in a particular district : and the right of the Crown to grant 
monopolies was one on which the Commons kept a jealous 
eye. A charter to colonise presupposed the right of the 
Crown to govern the colony founded, with or without repre- 
sentative iastitutions ; in nearly every case it stipulated that 
the Crown should receive certain definite or indefinite sums 
in return for the privilege and protection, nominal or real, 
which went with the charter. The extension of the British 
dominions overseas to any large extent would therefore have 
enriched the Crown considerably, and might conceivably have 
rendered it independent of the home ParUament : hence the 
interest with which the Commons followed the question of 
charters and monopolies. 

But after the execution of Charles i. all the functions of 
the Crown devolved on Parhament ; and at the restoration of 
the monarchy it was impossible for things to revert to their 
previous position. From that time, therefore, the right of 
Parhament to intervene in the affairs of the chartered and 
proprietary companies was imquestioned ; even more evident 
was its right to revise the charters by which the Crown granted 
privileges, and to determine for how long a period those 
privileges should be renewed. 

For a century little more was aimed at. The imperial 
poHcy of Cromwell had thrown the glamour of imperiahsm 
over many of the acts of his Parliaments : but the reaction 
came immediately after his death. From that time the 
debates on the renewal of charters turned mainly on the 
amount that could be obtained from the trading companies 
for the relief of home taxation ; a sort of income-tax levied 
in advance on speculative profits, that frequently it is difficult 
to distinguish from political blackmail. 


A change of view is first noticeable in the time of the 
elder Pitt. The Empire of India was now falHng into the 
hands of England, or rather into the hands of a trading 
company that was bound to use its position primarily for 
the purpose of paying dividends. It was a situation un- 
paralleled in the history of the world ; although endowed 
with the privileges of rule, the East India Company did not 
recognise the responsibihties ; nor did Parliament for some 
time consider it necessary to take any steps to reform the 
government of India. 

Gradually, however, the feehng grew stronger that some 
more efiicacious system of control was necessary ; and, as 
might be expected, Pitt, the great imperial statesman of the 
age, was the first to discuss the matter. In 1760 he already 
thought the government of India ' the greatest of all objects, 
according to my view of great.' He meditated deeply over 
the problem, which seemed to resolve itself into the question, 
whether conquests never contemplated by a charter should 
be deemed an essential part of that charter. 

Unfortunately, the mysterious illness which for a time 
clouded his intellect prevented him from taking any action ; 
but when the renewal of the Company's charter was again 
debated in 1773, he at once showed his interest. In the 
letter on the subject that has been preserved, he puts his 
view of the case clearly : ' I always conceived that there is 
in substantial justice a mixed right to the territorial revenues 
between the State and the Company as joint captors ; the 
State equitably entitled to the larger share as largest con- 
tributor in the acquisition. . . . Nor can the Company's 
share, when ascertained, be considered as private property : 
but in trust for the pubUc purpose of the defence of India and 
the extension of trade ; never in any case to be portioned 
out in dividends to the extinction of trade.' At this time 
Burke also showed his interest in oriental matters, and we 
have already seen that an Act to regulate affairs in India 


passed through ParKament in spite of the protests of the 
directors of the Company. 

But the great storm was still to come, a storm in com- 
parison to which the outcry that took place over the mis- 
government which Chve was sent out to check was merely a 
passing thundercloud on a summer day. 

During the debates on the India Bill the name of Clive had 
often been called in question, and the part he had taken in 
Parliament ^^^ government of India was referred to cen- 
and Clive, soriously by many members. On him was visited 
all the wrath which had gradually been accumu- 
lating against the whole body of Anglo-Indians for several 
years. The nabobs, as the latter were commonly called in 
England, were for many reasons a most unpopular class of 
men.i They did not generally come of high family, yet 
their wealth enabled them to outshine the heads of old county 
houses. That wealth could buy them everything save breed- 
ing and respect ; and they attempted to cover the deficiency, 
after the manner of the upstart all the world over, by insolence. 
Accustomed to command in India, they assumed an over- 
bearing tone at home. Their demeanour naturally roused 
the furious resentment of all those particles of society which 
they had displaced ; the aspiring snob and the lofty patrician 
were for once alUed in detesting a common foe. And these 
critics were joined by a type of man whom modern England 
to her cost knows too well : we may be sure that, among the 
enemies of the nabobs, there were not lacldng those who are 
meanly envious of the more conspicuous or more fortunate in 
life than themselves, and whose sole dehght seems to be to 

1 As were also their sons at Oxford University, as is pointed out in 
Godley's Oxford in the Eighteenth Century. Many writers have ascribed 
the corruption of eighteenth-century England to the evil influence of the 
wealthy Anglo-Indians ; but it must be lenaembered that the nabobs 
were after all a limited class, and that the manufacturers at home were 
making money at least as rapidly at this time. And it is not invariably 
true that wealth is put to bad uses, even by those who have amassed it 
more quickly than their less fortunate or more honest neighbours. 


traduce and to besmirch those of their countrymen who have 
performed great pubHc services overseas. 

It began to be whispered that the enormous wealth of the 
Anglo-Indians had been obtained by extortion and tyranny 
of the most cruel kind : and the nabobs at once found enrolled 
among their opponents such men as the orator Burke, whose 
pure soul was filled with a passion for justice to the weak, 
and the poet Cowper, whose terrible indictment of the iniquity 
of the Enghsh in India seems directly inspired by that divine 
teacher who bade men be merciful to the poor and helpless. 

The storm centred on Chve : for he was the chief of all the 
nabobs. And to the revilements of his countrymen at home 
he found were now added the curses of those whom he had 
balked of maldng a fortune in India. His good and his evil 
acts alike told against him. 

Every item of his conduct was investigated by Parhament 
with malignant care : * I am sure,' CHve once exclaimed, ' if 
I had any sore places about me, they would have been found ; 
they have probed me to the bottom ; no lenient plasters have 
been appHed to heal, no, they were all of the bhster kind.' 
After the trial he said bitterly, and with truth, that he had 
been examined hke a common sheep-stealer ; but a sense of 
compassion for his wrongs had already turned feeling in his 
favour. When the direct vote of censure was moved in the 
House, the previous question was put and carried ; and while 
his excesses were not glossed over, it was resolved unani- 
mously ' that Robert Lord Clive did at the same time render 
great and meritorious services to his country.' 

The verdict was a just one : but it brought no peace to 
CHve. He rusted in inactivity ; he, whose whole manhood 
had been passed in conflict, could not exist in Death of 
luxurious idleness. The strange melancholy of ^^^^^' i'^*- 
his youth again began to prey upon him : and a few months 
later he died by his own hand, having only just entered his 
fiftieth year. The ignorant and the superstitious at once 


seized on the event as a sign that the Devil had come by his 
own ; and there were even some good men who so far forgot 
their religion as to suggest that the just retribution of God 
had overtaken the oppressor. 

The war of pamphlets attacking and defending the East 
India Company went on unceasingly. The rising newspaper 
Indian Con- P^^^^ ^f the day joined in the debate. The evil 
troversy, genius of Sir Philip Francis returned from Asia to 
add acrimony to the controversy. Statesmen were 
meanwhile occupied in devising schemes of better government 
for the Indian possessions of Britain. The mantle of Pitt fell 
on his son. The loss of the American colonies made men fear 
the loss of the Indian Empire ; and the news of the growing 
power of Haidar Ali gave countenance to the fear. But 
until the charter of the Company was near expiry, nothing 
could be done ; and Warren Hastings was still ruling firmly 
and wisely in the East. 

At length, in 1780, negotiations were begun between the 
directors and the imperial treasury for a renewal of the 
monopoly. There were many difficulties to be encountered ; 
and the two old questions still remained. To whom did the 
territory in the East belong, and what amount should the 
Company pay for its exclusive commercial privileges ? 

A compromise was efEected, however, and the charter was 
renewed for a time ; but, while everything appeared to be 
going smoothly, various complaints arrived from the British 
in India as to the powers possessed by the Supreme Court 
of Judicature. In deference to these, two committees were 
appointed, which afterwards investigated the whole state of 
oriental affairs ; and of those committees the most conspicuous 
and the most laborious member was Edmund Burke. 

Legislation again became inevitable. Feeling raged high. 
Dundas, one of the most implacable enemies of Warren 
Hastings, demanded his recall ; and by his words recommend- 
ing the appointment of Cornwallis as Governor-General, he 


insinuated a gross slander on the existing holder of that 
office. ' Here/ said Dundas of his nominee, ' is no broken 
fortune to be mended ; no beggarly mushroom kindred to 
be provided for ; no crew of hungry followers gaping to be 
gorged ! ' 

But the Bill which he put forward was rightly looked upon 
as too extreme, and the Ministry itself took the Indian problem 
in hand. Fox introduced a Bill, which was unacceptable to 
all but his own party followers ; and good in many points 
though it was, it was considered solely from the party point 
of view, which was then an even greater curse than now in 
British politics. 

The only voice which raised the debates to a higher level 
was that of Burke ; and his magnificent eloquence, which 
even in the cold silence of print can still stir the The idealism 
blood more than a century afterwards, was then of Burke, 
employed in the first of those splendid efforts on behalf of 
our Indian fellow-subjects which are perhaps his most endur- 
ing title to fame. His speech was, he said, ' The fruit of much 
meditation, the result of the observation of near twenty years. 
. . . This business cannot be indifferent to our fame. It 
will turn out matter of great disgrace or great glory to the 
whole British nation. I am therefore a httle concerned to 
perceive the spirit and temper in which the debate has been 
all along pursued. It is not right, it is not worthy of us, to 
depreciate the value, to degrade the majesty, of this grave 
deliberation of poHcy and empire. If we are not able to 
devise some means of governing India well, which will not 
of necessity become the means of governing Great Britain 
ill, a ground is laid for their eternal separation.' A lengthy 
indictment of the East India Company followed. ' We have 
sold,' said Burke, ' the blood of millions of men for the base 
consideration of money. Through all that vast extent of 
country there is not a man who eats a mouthful of rice but 
by permission of the East India Company ; yet there is not 


a single prince, state, or potentate, great or small, with whom 
they have come in contact, whom they have not sold. There 
is not a single treaty they have ever made which they have 
not broken. Every rupee of profit made by an Englishman 
is lost for ever to India. England has erected no churches, 
no hospitals, no palaces, no schools ; England has built no 
bridges, made no high roads, cut no navigations, dug out 
no reservoirs. Every other conqueror has left some monu- 
ment behind him ; were we to be driven out of India this 
day, nothing would remain to tell that it had been possessed 
during the inglorious period of our dominion by anything 
better than the urang-utang or the tiger. . . , There is not 
left one man of property and substance, not one landholder, 
not one banker, not one merchant, nor one even of those who 
usually perish last, the ultimum moriens in a ruined state, 
not one farmer of revenue.' 

The speech was disfigured by many gross exaggerations : 
the Company's rule was at least an improvement on those 
degenerate successors of the Mughal who had given India 
over to anarchy ; and Burke made no mention whatever of 
the administrative reforms of Hastings.^ 

But in the main the charges were true ; and the import- 
ance of Burke's speech is that it laid down for the first time, 
as an undeniable proposition, the principle that it was a 
national duty to see that the natives of our oriental depend- 
ency were not oppressed by their conquerors. If the East 
India Company, in short, was responsible for India, England 
was responsible for the East India Company. 

In this speech, too, may be found the first outline of that 

^ This speech, indeed, showed Burke at his best ; at his worst he was 
merely an abusive fanatic. As Mr. Sichel points out in his brilliant 
Life of Sheridan, Burke was rebuked by Pitt in 1784 for calling Warren 
Hastings ' Hainan Dowlah,' and there are other instances of his passionate 
and rhetorical distortions in his dealings with Indian politics. To the 
end of his life he refused to see anything but evil in the character of the 
great Governor-General. But this was not the only case in which Burke 
showed that the faculty of calm and impartial judgment was utterlj'^ alien 
to his nature. 


policy of social and industrial improvement in the East which 
has been the glory of our dominion there during the nine- 
teenth century. The world, as Burke said at another time, 
' saw one of the races of the North-West cast into the heart 
of Asia new manners, new doctrines, new institutions ' ; and 
though England had as yet done little to justify her conquests, 
the beginnings of better things were at hand. 

The Bill introduced by Fox was rejected, not so much by 
the opinion of Parliament, as by the direct influence of the 
Idng ; and William Pitt the younger, the new The India 
Prime Minister, brought forward a somewhat ^^^^^' 1783-4. 
similar measure. It was founded more on compromise than 
the scheme of Fox, who had not understood the strength of 
the East India Company, and the influence its directors 
possessed in Parhament : but its principle was much the 
same. All commercial business was to be carried on as before 
by the Company, whose chartered rights were thus untouched ; 
but the whole conduct of pohtical matters was placed under 
a Board of Control, which was formed of members selected 
from the Privy Council of Great Britain. The Board had 
power to approve or annul the acts of the Company, and the 
President of the Board became practically a new Secretary 
of State in Parliament for the Indian Department. 

In this way the government of India fell to the British 
Parliament ; the commerce of India was preserved to its 
original owners. So great was the power of Pitt as Premier 
that the Bill passed without serious opposition ; and the 
system of double government thus instituted lasted, with 
one important change, until after the Mutiny of 1857. 

It was anomalous, but on the whole it answered well ; and 
the seventy-three years during which it continued form the 
second great division of British Indian polity. In the first, 
the Company had been supreme. In the second, the Com- 
pany and the Crown had joint control. In the third, the 
Company ceased to exist, and the Crown alone was responsible. 


Diirmg the course of the protracted debates on Lidian 
affairs many of the acts of Warren Hastings had been severely 
The Trial condemned by enemies both pubhc and private, 
of Hastings, His conduct had been censured by a vote of the 
1788-95. House of Conmions. Dundas had attacked him 
with the virulence of ■which he was a master. Francis had 
done all in his power to pay back old scores. Burke had 
declaimed in tones of thunder against the tyranny and extor- 
tion of the Govemor-Greneral. But imperial affairs were too 
critical to permit of the recall of Hastings at that moment. 
At length, however, in 1785 he returned. 

It caimot be denied there was a strong, and to some extent 
a well-founded feeling of indignation against him. But he 
had also a great body of fervent admirers. The general 
pubUc, who had no particular reason for taking sides on 
Indian questions, seem to have recognised that he had com- 
mitted many wrongs ; but against this they set off, and with 
justice, the fact that he had upheld the English name in the 
East during a time of storm and stress. 

In all probability no steps to impeach him would have been 
taken, had not his agent in ParUament, the inept JMajor Scott, 
challenged Burke to bring forward a motion of censure that 
had already been threatened. Thus attacked, Burke had 
no option but to justify himself. He rephed, and founded 
his indictment chiefly on the Ptohilla War, the Giait Sinh 
affair, and the ill-treatment of the Begams of Oudh ; actions 
which he characterised, with even more than his customary 
vehemence of language, as ' the danmed and damnable pro- 
ceedings of a judge in hell." On the first charge Hastings 
was absolved by the House of Commons, chiefly on the ground 
that his conduct therein had already been censured ; but he 
was impeached on the others. 

The trial began early in the next year, 1788. Against 
Hastings were ranged the greatest orators of the age ; Burke, 
Sheridan, and Fox vied with each other in depicting the 


enormities of which the great Governor-General had been 
guilty. But they knew httle of legal procedure ; and their 
speeches, which were full of the splendid rhetoric of which 
each of those great speakers were masters, were equally full 
of the most reckless exaggerations. 

The lawyers, and perhaps the balance of the arguments, 
were on the side of Warren Hastings ; but what was even 
more on his side was the extraordinary duration of the trial. 
The hearing of the charges against him extended over seyen 
years ; and even then it was only by the prosecutors with- 
drawing many of the counts that the end was reached. The 
pubhc interest had been enormous at the beginning of the 
proceedings ; but long before the trial had run half its course 
the world was weary of it.^ Sympathy began to be given 
to Hastings, for justice seemed to degenerate into persecu- 
tion, as the dilatory proceedings dragged on indefinitely. 
At last, in 1795, the decision was pronounced. Acquittal 
on aU the charges was a foregone conclusion. 

There must have been many at the trial who drew a parallel 
between Clive and Hastings. Both had gone out as lads 
to India, in much the same circumstances. Both had been 
in the same employment, and had risen from the lowest to 
the highest positions. Both held a position of immense 
power, and served their country well. Both committed great 
faults, and both had their conduct tried by enemies on their 
return. Both were honourably acquitted. 

But there the resemblance ends. Clive was wayward and 
passionate, and a prey to suicidal mania. Hastings was 
calm and thoughtful, and able to keep steadily in the same 
path for many years together. At his acquittal he was 
already older than Clive had been at his death ; yet Hastings 

' And so apparently was one of the prosecutors. Mr. Sicliel relates 
that : ' Even at the end of 17>S8, so wearied was Sheridan of the inipetuoua 
tempers of Burke that he told the Duchess of Devonshire in jest how 
much he wished that Warren Hastings would run away, and Burke 
after him.' 


lived in tranquillity another twenty-three years, on those 
historic lands of his ancestors at Daylesford which he had 
so long coveted, where he indulged the quiet pursuits of an 
English country gentleman, and endeavoured, not very 
successfully, to cultivate at home some of the products native 
to the tropical regions of the earth. 

The likeness and the contrast between the work of the two 
men in India is striking. The career of Chve may be com- 
pared to the course of a mountain torrent, which carries all 
before it in one impetuous rush ; that of Hastings to the 
steadily flowing river of the lowlands, less picturesque perhaps, 
but with far more real power and force : and as the torrent 
is the beginning of the river, so were the conquests of Chve 
the foundation of the administrative and general poHcy of 
Hastings. The one was the complement of the other ; alone 
neither would have been permanent. 

With the close of the great trial the interest that had been 
excited in Indian affairs throughout England died away, as 
cornwauis, the storm of the French Revolution and the 
1786-93. Napoleonic wars distracted the attention of 
Europe. Asiatic affairs, in fact, remained a thing apart from 
the general politics of the western world ; and only those 
who were directly concerned with the East knew much of 
the advance of our empire there. But, despite the terrible 
burden of the contest with France, there was no cessation 
for any length of time of the efforts to consolidate and extend 
the English power in India. 

The immediate successor of Warren Hastings in India was 
Macpherson, a man who had risen from the humble position 
of purser on a mercantile vessel to be adviser to the Nawab 
of Arcot, and eventually a senior Member of Council. His 
rule was merely intermediate, and was marked by no events 
of any importance. 

He was followed, in September 1786, by Lord Cornwalhs, 
a statesman who proved himself worthy to rank among the 


greatest of those whom England has given to India. As 
commander of the British troops in America during the 
Imperial Civil War a year or two before, he had been unsuc- 
cessful ; as Governor-General of India, however, he more 
than retrieved the reputation which he lost in the capitula- 
tion at Yorktown.^ 

At first, indeed, he was miwilling to accept the post offered 
to him. He saw the virulent attacks that were being made 
on Warren Hastings ; he had himself not been held free from 
blame by popular opinion for the crowning disaster of the 
American War ; and he shrank, as many a sensitive man 
would have shrunk in a similar position, from the possibility 
of a second failure and its inevitable consequences. 

He was in no mood, he said, to risk being ' disgraced to 
all eternity ' in attempting inefEectually ' to fight nabob 
princes, his own Council, and the supreme Government, what- 
ever it may be ' ; and he refused the post. It was some 
time before the entreaties of the Enghsh Ministers prevailed : 
but at length, ' much against his will and with grief of heart,' 
as he confessed, he accepted the supreme control of Indian 
affairs and sailed for the East. 

His arrival found Bengal in a disturbed and restless state. 
Macpherson had already described the time as ' a season of 
peculiar difficulty, when the close of a ruinous unrest in 
war, and the relaxed habits of the service, had iQ^ia. 
left all the armies in arrear, and the presidencies in disorder.' 
According to the much overdrawn accounts that had been 
sent home, the public distress had never been so pressing as 
at that moment ; and certainly Macpherson himself did 
nothing to relieve it. Indeed, even his short period of rule 
had been far from satisfactory. Many of the old abuses had 
begun to appear again ; and his successor took occasion to 
remark, in an early despatch, that the British name in India 

1 For the campaigns of Cornwallis in America, see vol. iii. bk. ix, 
chap. iii. 



had now ' no authority, and the grossest frauds were daily 
committed before their faces ; their whole conduct, and all 
their pretensions to economy, except in the reduction of 
salaries, were a scene of delusion.' 

When Cornwallis landed, therefore, in a country to whose 
problems he was altogether a stranger, it was not to take up 
the reins of a settled government ; and his hands were still 
further tied by the instructions he had received before leaving 

The parliamentary Board of Control and the directors of 
the East India Company had both assumed that the collec- 
The Bengal tion and the amount of the revenue were the most 
Revenue. important questions in Indian administration. In 
a sense perhaps they were right, looking at India from the 
point of view that was held by everybody at that day except 
Edmund Burke ; and most certainly they did not err in dis- 
covering that the revenue stood on a very unsatisfactory 
footing. All over the country payments were in arrears ; 
in some parts they were as much as four years behind ; 
in many others the sums collected had fallen short of 

It had therefore been determined to place the Indian revenue 
on a permanent basis. The first assessment was to be con- 
fined to a period of ten years ; but after that time a lasting 
settlement was to be arrived at. With the duty of intro- 
ducing this new system was Cornwalhs charged ; and he was 
to be guided, not by ' abstract theories drawn from other 
countries, or applicable to a different state of things, but a 
consideration of the existing manners and usages of the people.' 

It was easy to give directions from London ; but the new 
Governor-General had not been long in Calcutta before he 
found it impossible to carry them out. It had been taken 
for granted that the English in India were already in posses- 
sion of sufficient information as to the economic condition of 
the provinces they ruled, to fix the assessment almost imme- 


diately at an equitable rate. So far, however, was this from 
being the case, that nobody could say definitely whether the 
country could pay more, or whether it was already taxed too 
highly. AU that was certainly known were the amounts 
that had previously been collected. 

In this difiiculty CornwaUis took the only course that was 
fair both to the people and their rulers ; but it was a course 
upon which a lesser man would have refused to embark. He 
disregarded the orders he had received, and sent home a 
despatch giving his reasons for doing so. Annual settle- 
ments of the revenue were introduced for the time being ; 
in the meantime all the information that could be gathered 
as to the resources of India was obtained and placed before 

The result was seen in the despatch sent home by Corn- 
waUis on 2nd August 1789. After three years of exhaustive 
investigation, he was now ready with a scheme The Per- 
for the permanent settlement of the Bengal ^^y^^* 
revenue. The assessment of the country was 1789. 
fixed in perpetuity. It was still left in the hands of the zamin- 
dari, or collectors, to receive the revenue from the ryots, or 
cultivators, as before, and to pay it over to the Government ; 
but the rights of the former were elevated into something 
very near those of a landlord, while the latter became in effect 
little more than tenants. Cornwalhs appears to have had 
in mind, as was inevitable in a man of aristocratic upbring- 
ing, the system of land tenure prevailing in England : but 
great as this fault was — and we shall see in a subsequent 
chapter that his scheme eventually failed — the permanent 
settlement was at least a step forward from the old hap- 
hazard method of revenue collection. It introduced, what 
had hitherto always been lacking, an element of certainty in 
Indian finance ; it standardised a principle, where before was 
merely chance, and very often extortion. 

Further than this, it paved the way for another urgent 


reform. The functions of collector of revenue and president 
of the local courts of law had previously pertained to the same 
official : and the efiect of this was to unite the advocate and 
the judge in one person. A more direct incentive to tyranny- 
can hardly be conceived ; and although Cornwalhs in his 
original instructions was commanded to preserve the system, 
he abolished it after a lengthy trial had convinced him of its 
injustice. The complete criminal jurisdiction was given to 
Europeans, and the collector of revenue had from this time 
no connection with either judicature or pohce. 

But in spite of the care which had been taken in the com- 
pilation of the revenue statistics, they proved very faulty in 
the actual work of administration. Under the new scheme, 
whatever advantages the Government and the collectors of 
revenue derived from it, the cultivators suffered. Within 
twenty years the position of the latter was described as 
desperate, and it was seen that the permanent settlement 
would have to be revised throughout. Unfortunately this was 
deferred from year to year, and the rights of the cultivators 
were not secured to them until after the Mutiny in 1859. 

Whether Cornwallis would have discovered and remedied 
the defects of his own system, had the opportunity been vouch- 
The Second ^^^^^ ^^^> remains a question. But he, like 
Mysore War, Warren Hastings, was interrupted in his schemes 
1791-2. ^£ reform by a call to arms. Haidar Ah was dead ; 

Tipu, his son, reigned in his stead. And Tipu was still burn- 
ing with resentment at the defeats that had been infhcted 
on his father, and the heavy losses which the late war had 
brought on the kingdom of Mysore. In his way he governed 
well, and his people were prosperous and contented during 
at least the earHer part of his reign, thus furnishing a humih- 
ating contrast to the misery of the neighbouring British pro- 
vince of the Karnatic. But Tipu was above all else ambitious 
to extend his territory, and to exterminate the alien rulers 
of India. 


To accomplish the latter end, he was quite prepared to see 
other aHens in their place. He invited the terrible Afghans 
to descend from their fastnesses upon the north, and to co- 
operate with him in driving out the English ; and though his 
project fortunately came to nothing, he remained hopeful 
tiU the last that the French would yet appear in India as 
conquerors, and assist him against those enemies with whom 
his father had grappled in vain, and with whom the major 
part of his own life was to be spent in warring. 

For some years after the close of the first Mysore War, in 
1784, there seemed no Hkelihood, however, that the treaty 
between Tipu and the EngHsh would be broken. The Sultan 
was indeed a turbulent neighbour, who was continually inter- 
fering in the affairs of the smaller states of Southern India, 
over which the English claimed a certain amount of control : 
but the opinion generally prevailed that he would do nothing 
actively hostile without French aid ; and that aid he could 
not hope to obtain, since France and England were at peace. 

But in the very year, 1790, in which Cornwallis expressed 
this opinion, and even suggested to Tipii that commissioners 
should be appointed on either side to settle all questions in 
dispute, the latter attacked Travancore, a state under British 
protection, without previous provocation. 

The Governor-General at once made known his intention 
of exacting full reparation for the outrage ; and treaties of 
ofiensive alliance were concluded by him with Haidarabad 
and those recent foes of the British, the Maratha princes. 

Tipu, alarmed by the formidable enemies his wanton deed 
had provoked, attempted to excuse the invasion of Travan- 
core as an unauthorised irruption of his army, and suggested 
that the EngHsh should appoint one or two trusty persons 
to negotiate. But CornwaUis was not to be deceived. It 
would have compromised the dignity of the British name to 
have sent ambassadors to Tipu ; it was his place to send them 
to us. 


But altliougli the Sultan of Mysore subsequently offered 
to do so, in order to ' remove the dust by which the upright 
mind of the General had been obscured ' ; and although the 
ever-pacific presidency of Madras believed that he ' had no 
intention to break with the Company/ Cornwallis saw more 
clearly that to delay the war would merely give Tipii the 
opportunity of strengthening his army, without lessening 
his enmity. 1 Madras was severely censured by the Governor- 
General for disobeying his command to prepare for war : 
and in the following year, 1791, Cornwallis himself took the 
field, with a display of pomp and power, designed to impress 
the natives, such as neither CHve nor Coote had ever been 
able to show. 

Tipii had appealed to France for aid, and even waited at 
Pondicherri for the troops which he imagined must eventually 
come. But his request and his presents had both been laughed 
at in the court of Louis xvi, ; and the Sultan of Mysore turned 
back disappointed to his own dominions to fight his battle 

His early operations against the British were, however, 
successful. The Madras army, which had marched against 
him, did nothing ; and the activity of the Governor of Bombay, 
General Abercromby, who conquered the Malabar coast with 
ease, did not compensate for the failure of the former. 

At length Cornwallis took the supreme direction of the 

1 I have an uneasy feeling that if the ghost of the unfortunate Tipfi 
were suddenly to confront me at my desk, he might be able to prove that 
this war was fastened on him against his will by Cornwallis. The Sultan 
of Mysore certainly did his best to conciliate the Governor-General when 
he saw that matters M'ere serious ; and it is at least possible that Corn- 
wallis seized a favourable opportunity to injure one whom he knew would 
never be a friend of the British, but whom it did not suit at the moment 
to become a declared enemy. But this question, like many other dis- 
puted points in history, can never be definitely settled ; for nearly all 
our evidence comes from the victors, and the only decisive testimony 
would be the conscience of the defeated Sultan. It is a legal maxim that 
one cannot libel the dead — a maxim that seems invented for the express 
benefit of historians — but if one could call up spirits from the vasty deep, 
and examine them as to their actions when they were alive, a good deal 
that is now accepted as the truth would have to be thrown overboard. 


war. He arrived without opposition at Bangalore, aided less 
by his own qualities as a commander than by Tipu's remiss- 
ness as a foe ; for the latter had suddenly bethought him- 
self of his seraglio in that city, and returned with all speed 
to rescue his womenfolk. 

The Sultan had thereby made a bad blunder, and Bangalore 
was soon in the hands of the British troops. But from that 
moment the fortune of the campaign was reversed. Corn- 
wallis failed to effect a junction with the army of Haidarabad ; 
and although Tipu declined a proffered battle, and the 
British general prepared for the siege of Seringapatam, the 
capital of Mysore, he was suddenly checked. 

There was an utter failure of the British equipment, due 
to lack of foresight ; the cattle and provisions were lost, and 
the invading army was compelled to retreat in serious danger. 
It fell in with the Marathas, but for the time these allies were 
of little use, requiring a loan before they would consent to 
fight : and at length Cornwallis was forced to open negotia- 
tions with Tipu. 

But the Sultan, though willing enough to treat, was now 
flushed with victory, and suggested that the British army 
should return to its own territory before he could think of 
peace. The assumption of superiority was repudiated by 
Cornwallis ; and, fresh supplies having arrived, the combined 
armies of the British and Marathas marched on Seringapatam. 

The district between Bangalore and the capital of Mysore 
was of an extraordinarily difficult nature for an army to 
traverse. The country was one of hills and precipices. A 
dense jungle stretched the whole way, which was aggravated 
by the artificial thickets of bamboos that had been planted 
in various places. At intervals there were forts, which were 
manned by the Sultan's most devoted servants. ' I have 
eaten Tipu's salt for twenty years,' cried the captain of one 
of these when summoned to surrender, ' and will not give 
up my post till you first take Seringapatam.' 


Almost every fort had to be bombarded mitil a breach was 
made in its walls, and then taken by assault ; at least one 
stronghold resisted three days' continual cannonade. And 
when one fort was stormed and captured, a path had to be 
cut in the jungle, over rocks and through the undergrowth, 
before the heavy artillery could be dragged forward another 
mile or two towards the next. The labour was immense ; 
but, by the beginning of February 1792, the British lines of 
communication were perfect, and CornwalHs appeared before 

The capital of Mysore, in which Tipii had entrenched him- 
self, lies on a large island in the middle of a river. A network 
of bamboo and a prickly hedge formed a useful rampart 
against attack, even after the river had been crossed ; and 
there was, in addition, a strong fortress to which the defenders 
could withdraw if closely pressed. 

Tipii possessed some five thousand cavalry and between 
forty and fifty thousand infantry ; and though his personal 
operations against the Enghsh had hitherto been generally 
feeble, he did not beheve that they would be able to capture 
Seringapatam. It was his aim to weary them with a long 
and fruitless siege, until the coming of the monsoon should 
force them to withdraw ; and since this stratagem had been 
successfully employed by his father in an earher campaign 
some years before, Tipii, whose qualities as a mihtary 
commander were certainly less brilliant than those of Haidar 
Ali, thought he could not do better than imitate a plan whose 
value had already been proved. 

But CornwaUis was not deterred by the formidable appear- 
ance of Seringapatam. He made a sudden and daring attack 
on the night of 6th February ; and although the native allies 
of the British were aghast at the boldness of the plan, and 
though Tipii's troops fought with great bravery, they could 
not resist the onslaught. By four o'clock the next after- 
noon the city was captured, and siege was then immedi- 


ately laid to the fortress. A firm resistance was still made 
by the Sultan ; but it was hopeless to attempt to hold out, 
and, on the 24th, peace was concluded. 

The Mysorean soldiery continued to fire for a time, in order 
to appear to be the last to give up the fight ; but this piece 
of barbarian bravado was of no effect. Cornwalhs could 
despise such empty bombast, and he issued an order to his 
men to show moderation in the hour of victory, and to ' refrain 
from the use of any kind of insulting expression towards an 
enemy now subdued and humbled.' 

The command was obeyed ; but it was more difficult to 
draw up a treaty which, while satisfying the Marathas and 
the Nizam of Haidarabad, should secure to the British the 
just fruits of victory, and yet leave Tipu a reasonable amount 
of territory as Sultan of Mysore. 

There was no intention of deposing him, for, once his power 
was checked, and he was forced to acknowledge the might 
of the ruling race, Cornwallis thought Tipii would be a useful' 
factor in preserving that balance of power among the native 
states which was still the basis of the East India Company's 
policy. The events of the next few years proved that nothing 
could quell Tipti's enmity but death ; but at the time the 
treaty of 1792 seemed sufficiently drastic to prevent him 
from causing further trouble. 

He was forced to cede half his territories among the allies, to 
give up two of his eldest sons to the British as hostages, and 
to pay the enormous indemnity of three crores and thirty lakhs 
of rupees. The British share of the dominions thus acquired 
was the province of Mysore on the Karnatic frontier, the 
district surrounding Dindigul, and the Malabar coast. 

A year after the close of the second Mysore War Corn- 
wallis returned to England, and was succeeded sir John 
as Governor-General bv Sir John Shore, who had shore, 

1 • « ' • 1793-8 

been mstrumental in drawing up the greater 

part of the permanent settlement of Bengal. A high- 


minded and blameless statesman, Shore's attention was 
directed mainly to the internal administration of the British 
Indian provinces. He seldom interfered in the affairs of 
the independent states ; and the five years of his rule being 
generally quiet and uneventful, he was able to continue 
undisturbed the work of reform which he had initiated 
under the guidance of Cornwallis. 

When Shore retired in 1798, a little more than a quarter of 
a century had elapsed since the Regulating Act had been 
The Results passed, and more than ten years since the govern- 
mentary nient of India had been divided between the East 
Government. India Company and the British Parliament. It 
was therefore by that time possible to see in some degree how 
the new system of divided ministerial and corporative control 
would work. That there had been some disadvantages in 
the dual authority was but natural. Cornwallis found him- 
self hampered at times by the restrictions which had been 
placed on the contraction of alliances and the signature of 
treaties with the native powers ; and it would have been a 
serious difficulty had he not cut the Gordian knot by occa- 
sionally disregarding the law on this point. In the troubled 
years which were to come, when Wellesley was at the head 
of affairs, it was often impossible to wait for the decision of 
the British Cabinet Ministers on every question of internal 
Indian politics, especially since neither the Parliamentary 
Secretary of State for India nor the directors of the East India 
Company in London could be so well informed of the neces- 
sities of the situation as the man on the spot ; and, in addition, 
the time required for communicating between London and 
Calcutta was so long that the position might have altered 
entirely before the decision of the authorities in London could 
have reached the Governor-General in Calcutta. Wellesley, 
therefore, in this matter followed the action of Cornwallis. 

Another disadvantage was the infusion of British party 
politics into the discussion of Indian affairs in Parliament ; 


but this was not a new evil. The examination of CUve and 
the impeachment of Warren Hastings had both been dictated 
at least as much by the claims of party as by consideration 
for the welfare of the people of India. The discussions and 
voting on the India BiUs had been exclusively on party hnes. 
And during the second Mysore War, Fox had found it con- 
sistent with patriotism to indulge in an attack of wild rhetoric 
on CornwaUis for his alliance with the Marathas and the Nizam 
of Haidarabad ; it was, said Fox, a plundering confederacy 
for the purpose of extirpating a lawful prince, the expedient 
of a wicked government in a barbarous age ; the progress of 
civiHsation had rendered men ashamed of such alliances in 
Europe, but Britain still resorted to them in Asia. His oratory, 
however, feU on deaf ears ; the war was popular in England, 
and the Government carried the day against the opposition.^ 
While these drawbacks to the new system were obvious, 
they were held in check by the general good sense of the 
nation, and, in part, by the indifference it was about to show 
towards Indian affairs ; and they were more than offset by 
the advantages which parHamentary control had brought. 
The reforms of CornwaUis and Shore, though far from perfect, 
were at least steps towards better things ; and it may be 
doubted whether they would have been introduced had 
British India remained solely under Company rule. Warren 
Hastings was as anxious to improve the administration of 
Bengal as CornwaUis ; but he was prevented by the insistent 

1 That party spirit should run high within the walls of the House of 
Commons when Indian afiFairs were discussed will not appear wonderful 
to those who remember the political factions of the times ; but it is 
curious to find that the people outside, who condemned Fox's India Bill, 
shouted ' No Grand Mogul, no India tyrant ! ' at the offending Whigs. 
They may not have understood exactly who the Grand Mogul was, or 
where he reigned ; but most intelligent men had a roughly accurate idea 
of recent events in India. And although one of the characters in She 
Stoops to Conquer remarks that ' I no more trouble my head about 
Heyder Ally or Ally Cawn than about Alh' Croaker,' the politics and 
finances of the East India Company, both in Leadenhall Street and in 
India, were one of the recognised topics of general conversation in Eng- 
land, as any of the memoirs of the later eighteenth century will attest. 


demand of the Company's directors for money, while Corn- 
wallis was, to a certain extent, able to disregard their wishes. 
Again, the directors would have objected, and, in fact, they 
did object, to the policy of expansion which was about to 
be initiated by Wellesley ; under parHamentary control, how- 
ever, their complaints were useless. 


THE FOEWAKD POLICY : 1798-1805 ^ 

The first thirteen years after the return of Warren Hastings 
to England were, in a military sense, generally uneventful. 
The next seven were filled with continual wars. The whole 
period of twenty years may be summed up as that in 
which the two distinct types of pohcy which have since 
characterised the British dominion in Asia first became 
strongly marked. Both have been rightly called the forward 

^ Authorities. — Mill and Hunter. The former's Hintory of British 
India closes with the year 1805. In spite of its cold, unsympathetic tone, 
and its prejudice against the East India Company and British policy in 
India, it is a valuable work. But it is a thousand pities that Hunter did 
not live to complete his great history, which would have superseded all 
others. The original authorities for this period are the indispensable 
despatches of Wellesley and Wellington, and the technical military works 
in which the history of the wars is told. Napoleon's scheme of striking at 
India through Egypt is thoroughly investigated by Thiers ; the import- 
ance of the idea, and its effect in shaping our Asiatic policy, has perhaps 
hardly been sufificieutly remarked by English historians. The Indian tracts 
and pamphlets that were published in England become from now for 
some time of small value : the trial of Warren Hastings had exhausted 
popular interest at home ; there were no obvious reasons for attacking the 
Company on political grounds any more, since Parliament had practically 
taken over the administration ; and, above all, \\'hile England was occu- 
pied with a life and death struggle in Europe, she could pay little atten- 
tion to Asia. In consequence, we find that the discussion of Indian 
affairs began to be the province of experts, and from about this time 
Eastern problems were generally lifted al)ove the spliere of party. The 
publications of the nineteenth century dealing with India were generally 
utilitarian and technical, and although they were controversial, they were 
so in quite a different sense from those of the eighteenth. 


policy by those responsible for them. Each has been neces- 
sary at various times, and it says much for the credit of our 
Indian administration that the men in authority have gene- 
rally chosen the path of conquest or the path of peace correctly, 
as the occasion of their age demanded. 

The forward poHcy, from the military standpoint, has con- 
sisted in the extension of the British power in India by 
war and conquest. That pohcy has enlarged our frontiers 
tiU they have reached the Himalayas in the north and have 
stretched to the coast all round the vast peninsula. It has 
been the source of a thousand briUiant exploits by our armies ; 
it has brought fame and reputation to many a rising soldier. 
And sometimes, but not often, it has been checked by a 
terrible disaster. 

The forward pohcy of the civilian service has had no such 
picturesque adjuncts to its fame. It has been concerned 
\^dth the details of administrative work, with the reform of 
Indian law, with the settlement of the land system. It has 
had to inaugurate a general scheme of education, to stop 
popular abuses that had the custom of centuries of ignorance 
at their back. It has had to foresee the wants of modern 
India by encouraging industry, by constructing irrigation 
works, canals, and railways, by enlarging the forest area 
of the country. And before it could do this it had first to 
create itself, and to evolve that tradition of unobtrusive, 
self-sacrificing, and often inadequately paid labour which 
has made the British Indian Civil Service without a parallel 
in the world, but which has allowed so few of its members 
to found a name for themselves. 

By a combination of the two poUcies the British have 
governed India. Our presence in Asia rests in the last resort 
upon the sword ; the justification of our presence there is 
the civil administration. To depend upon force alone would 
be to own ourselves without an ideal of government save that 
of force ; to depend upon civihan rule alone would be to trust 


to a belief in human gratitude that would show ourselves 
deluded by the mere foohshness of doctrinaires run mad. 

It was the miUtary policy which inevitably came first, with 
the victories of Clive. But he, the first of our generals in 
India, was forced also to undertake civil administration. As 
we have seen, his system failed ; and the reforms of Warren 
Hastings and British statesmen at home succeeded to his 
efforts. But the attention of Hastings was distracted by 
external politics and the finances of the East India Company. 
The critical situation in Europe and the Imperial Civil War 
in America prevented the British Parliament from giving 
much time to oriental afiairs. To Hastings, however, suc- 
ceeded Cornwallis, the first EngUsh nobleman who was 
appointed Governor of India ; and under the seven years 
of his rule the civil policy of reform was carried far. If com- 
mercial profit was still the basis of British rule in India, it 
was no longer the sole object. If an active Governor-General, 
or in later times an enterprising Viceroy, could vary the 
administration to suit his own views, he was no longer an 
autocrat in the sense that the two great men to whom we 
owe the solid foundation of our oriental empire had been. 

British India had grown beyond the strength of one ruler. 
The machine of the Indian imperial system had begun ; and 
that system, as nearly impersonal as any human institution 
can be, although it had not reached the automatic accuracy 
of the years after the Mutiny, was already rendering India 
independent of changes in the governing staff, from highest 
to lowest official.^ 

1 Compare the important speech in which Lord Morley, then Mr. John 
Morley, introduced the Indian Budget in the House of Commons on 6th 
June 1907. 'For the last few years,' he said, 'the doctrine of adminis- 
trative efficiency has been pressed too hard. The wheels of the huge 
machine have been driven too fast. Our administration would be a great 
deal more popular if it was a trifle less efficient, a trifle more elastic. . . . 
There are highly experienced gentlemen who say that a little of the loose- 
ness of earlier days is better fitted, than the regular system of latter days, 
to keep and win personal influence, ami that we are in danger of creating 
a pure bureaiicracy. Honourable, faithful, and industrious, the servants 


But Cornwallis had been forced to leave the reform of the 
Indian land and judicial system by the iiTuption of Tipii in 
the south ; and the last period of his governor- ,j,^^ Danger 
ship was dedicated to arms. The five years of in India, 
Sir John Shore's administration were uneventful ; 
but at their close the necessity for action was imperative. 
The situation was again somewhat similar to what it had 
been in Olive's day. To have risked a few years of uncertain 
peace for a possible increase of trade would have meant that 
the British would, sooner or later, have been driven from 

For the power of France had again grown in Asia. Expelled 
a second time from the petty remains of their possessions in 
India during the Imperial Civil War, the French had still not 
given up the hope of ultimate victory. The vast schemes 
of Dupleix were again being considered by Buonaparte ; and 
Buonaparte was about to entrench himself in Egypt, the 
while he fixed his eyes longingly on India. One campaign 
by that mighty genius of war would perhaps have brought 
both the British and the natives of India to his feet. 

Nor was the way unprepared. The French still possessed 
Mauritius and Bourbon, both convenient supply stations on 
the maritime road to Asia. French regiments formed the 
bodyguard of the Nizam of Haidarabad ; and they were in 
reality his masters. The soldiers of Sindhia, the military 
head of the Maratha confederacy, were led by French adven- 
turers. The Sultan of Mysore was still coquetting with 
France ; he carried on a correspondence with the Directorate 
at Paris, and imitated in passable fashion the jargon of hbert}'- 
that was talked under the First EepubHc. A tree of freedom 

of the State in India are and will be, but if the present system ia per- 
sisted in, there is a risk of its becoming rather mechanical, perhaps I 
might even say rather soulless. . . . All evidence tends to show that we 
are making administration less personal.' My own words in the text 
were written some two years before this speech w;.s delivered ; had the 
position been reversed, I should have been tempted to rob the most 
literary of our orators of these graceful but weighty sentences. 


was planted in his dominions ; he, an Asiatic despot, enrolled 
himself in a French club as Citizen Tipu, And British rule 
had not yet proved such an unmixed blessing that India 
would not have contemplated a change of masters without 
excessive regret. Certainly none but ourselves would have 
struck a blow in our defence. 

All this was known to the younger Pitt. He knew, too, 
that the best protection of British interests in the Orient lay 
weUesiey, in ^ series of brilliant conquests ; and he deter- 
1798-1805. mined to strike at once. He selected his man 
with the unerring sagacity which seems to have been heredi- 
tary in his family ; and Richard Colley, Baron Wellesley, 
became Governor-General of India in 1798. The son of an 
Irish nobleman, he had already held various official positions 
at home ; but he was marked out for a larger sphere than 
England offered. ' You are dying of the cramp,' Addington 
had once observed to him, when no opening appeared for his 
abilities in Europe : but Pitt had singled him. out for pro- 
motion ; and on the retirement of Sir John Shore, Wellesley 
sailed for Calcutta. 

Of cold but determined temperament, neither persuasion 
nor abuse could change him from any course that he thought 
desirable. Somewhat lacking in human affection, he seems 
to have given aU the love of which he was capable to the place 
where he had been educated ; and as Clive's thoughts in his 
years of exile had turned to Manchester, as Hastings had 
longed forDaylesford, so did Wellesley, when Governor-General 
of British India, ever dream of his old school on the banks of 
the Thames. So strong, indeed, was the sentiment which he 
felt for it, that even sixty years of strenuous life in Asia and 
in England could not abate his affection ; and at his death, 
in 1842, he directed that he should be buried in the same Eton 
College chapel in which he had worshipped as a schoolboy. 

He came out to India with the settled design of pursuing 
the forward policy. He did not believe in the system of non- 


intervention which had been followed by Cornwallis and 
Shore ; in common with Pitt, he was convinced that it was 
necessary to make the native rulers throughout He inaugur- 
the whole peninsula dependent on, and subor- porward 
dinate to, the British. The history of the ensuing Policy, 
seven years shows how thoroughly that policy was carried 
out ; and a sentence in one of his later despatches proves with 
what contempt he looked upon the remonstrances of the 
directors of the East India Company, when they complained, 
as they continually did, that commerce was no longer the 
paramount interest of the English in the East. ' No addi- 
tional outrage,' he wrote, ' which can issue from the most 
loathsome den of the India House will accelerate my depar- 
ture when the public safety shall appear to require my aid.' 

His first proposals for expansion were opposed at Calcutta, 
Madras, and London. Although the directors of the Com- 
pany had received the news of the French invasion of Egypt, 
they still clung to the hope of peace. They wrote urging 
' the utmost discretion, that we may not be involved in war 
in India without the most inevitable necessity.' It is easy to 
conceive that, according to them, the necessity would never 
have arisen until their Asiatic territories had been lost.^ 

The English colony at Madras, as usual, protested against 
movement of any sort ; and the merchants of Calcutta de- 
clared that ' we never before were so powerful and unassail- 
able.' Wellesley, however, was resolute. ' Not discouraged 
by these suggestions and representations,' he wrote, ' I insisted 
on the immediate execution of my orders ' : and those orders 
were for the assembly of the army. His first step was to 
induce the Nizam of Haidarabad to disband his French 
regiments ; and when British troops were substituted for 
them as tb*' bodyguard of the ruler of the Deccan, there was 

^ A parallel case may be found in the reluctance of the Dutch West 
India Company to recognise that its American colonies were threatened 
by the English. See vol. i. bk. iii. chap. iii. 

VOL. II. - L 


no difficulty in concluding a treaty of alliance with him. The 
potential enmity of the most powerful Mohammedan State 
of Southern India being thus averted, Wellesley turned his 
attention to Mysore. 

The campaign of CornwalUs had seriously diminished the 
power of Tipu. But the same cause had increased his enmity ; 
Third ^^^ there is something pathetic in his belief that 
Mysore War, the aid of God and the assistance of the French 
^^^^' would in the end dehver him from the English 

conquerors. His reliance on the former stood him in ill stead, 
for it led him again to trust in the strength of the fortress of 
Seringapatam ; his appeals to the latter for troops and money 
were the direct cause of Wellesley 's immediate intervention. 
The Governor-General would have been satisfied had Tipu 
promised to permit a permanent British resident at his 
capital, and to dismiss every Frenchman from his service 
and dominions ; but when a demand to that effect was made, 
the Sultan of Mysore retm-ned no answer. And therefore, 
' under all the circumstances,' said Wellesley, ' an immediate 
attack upon Tipu, for the purpose of frustrating the execution 
of his unprovoked and unwarrantable projects of ambition 
and revenge, appeared to me to be demanded by the soundest 
maxims both of justice and policy.' 

The British army marched from Madras ; Tipu became 
alarmed, and he complained, apparently not unreasonably, 
that since he had broken no treaty, there was no justice in 
the invasion. 

Such arguments had no weight with Wellesley. It was 
enough for him that the French were in Egypt, and that Tipii 
would have welcomed them in India. The British army 
pressed forward ; and, aided by the troops from Haidarabad, 
it was more than thirty thousand strong. On th^ other side, 
Mysore was threatened by the regiments of the Bombay 
Tipu attacked both in turn, but inefiectively ; and, having 


failed, he shut himself up in Seringapatam. Again his capital 
was surrounded by the British ; again it was stormed ; again 
it v/as taken. 

But Tipu had fallen in the defence, and when search was 
made for him, only his body was found, still warm, hidden 
among a pile of dead. The princes of the Sultan's family 
were generously treated by the victors, but they were not 
restored to the throne. The danger from the dynasty of 
Haidar Ali had been too great to risk the chance of another 
conflict : and the close of the third Mysore War ended for 
ever the political importance of that State. 

The fall of Seringapatam brought with it the utter collapse 
of the government of Mysore ; the whole country passed 
into British hands, and the younger brother of Wellesley, 
the future Duke of Wellington, was left there to restore order. 
At first, indeed, everything was in confusion. We had found 
to our cost that the people were generally loyal to Tipii in 
the provinces that had been ceded to England after the war 
of 1792 ; in the interior of Mysore they were still more devoted 
to their late master. And in the out-lpng districts there 
were small chiefs who had held semi-independent sway, even 
in the days of Haidar 's greatness ; these, too, were not dis- 
posed to welcome the iron hand of European dominion. Each 
was ready to conspire with his neighbours or with the people ; 
each had to be separately subdued. 

It is indeed in a strange character that we see Welhngton 
during his two years as administrator of Mysore. The re- 
organisation of the government was in itself a Wellington 
difficult process. He was perplexed by the in Mysore, 
rumours of plots, the gossip of the bazaars, and ^'^^^"^^^'i- 
the utterly untrustworthy character of the information volun- 
teered by the natives ; he was harassed by the disputes in 
his own army, and the continual problem of provisioning so 
large a force ; and it was no easy matter to restore confidence 
among the people. For some time they disliked selling their 


produce ; only when they found they were paid punctually 
and honestly did disaffection diminish. Other dangers were 
the tigers which roamed through the land, hardly checked in 
the anarchy that prevailed after the fall of Seringapatam, 
and the bands of plunderers who ravaged the countryside 
and, at times, the city itself. For such pests, WeUington's 
plan was simple : the former were shot, the latter hanged ; 
and after a few months there was comparative security. 

He now turned his attention to the improvement of the 
lines of communication within the state : roads were con- 
structed through the jungle, and the possibihty of a surprise 
attack was thus lessened. Each province was visited in turn, 
and its administration reorganised ; questions of revenue 
had to be inquired into, and the policy of imposing taxation 
on such articles as tobacco and the betel-nut considered. 
Finally, the future defence of Mysore had to be decided ; and 
Wellington arranged that the State should be patrolled regu- 
larly by squadrons of soldiers, preferring this system to keep- 
ing garrisons in fortresses in various places, where, as he 
observed, they would have never been able to put down a 
rebellion, for they could not venture to leave their own 

Mysore was thus finally subjugated by the British : but 
its ultimate destiny was a matter for serious debate. To 
have annexed it openly would have excited the jealousy of 
both the Marathas and the Nizam of the Deccan ; and though 
the latter was hardly in a position to become a dangerous 
foe, the shadows of approaching war with the former were 
already looming over British India. 

On the other hand, to have given the Marathas, as our alhes 
for the moment, too extensive a territory, would have enlarged 
their power, and made them a still more formidable foe in 
the future ; this question, however, was settled by their rejec- 
tion of the share that was offered them. Wellesley accord- 
ingly resolved to set up on the throne a Raja of the older 


family whom Haidar Ali had deposed : but, ' recollecting 
the inconveniences and embarrassments under the double 
government, in Oudh, the Karnatic, and Tanjore, I resolved,' 
he said, ' to reserve to the Company the most extensive and 
indisputable powers/ Even then the advisers of the Governor- 
General made immediate protests at his action ; it was 
objected, and with reason, that ' a child dragged forth from 
oblivion, to be placed on a throne on which his ancestors for 
three generations had not sat for more than half a century,' 
would be laughed at by the Mysoreans, and of little use to 
the British. The Governor-General, however, adhered to his 
resolution, and the historic rulers of Mysore were restored. 

But Mysore still acknowledged the absolute suzerainty of 
the East India Company : and the whole of India south of 
Haidarabad and the Maratha dominions was now und^ 
British control. The first step in consolidating our oriental 
possessions was thus complete ; the question of reforming 
the administration and bettering the condition of the people 
was left to other hands. 

WelUngton, indeed, was able to say of Mysore before he 
left it in 1801 that ' the country was becoming a garden ' ; 
but the older territories of the East India Com- jjiisery in 
pany in the south remained in a deplorable state, southern 
The Karnatic had been poverty-stricken for years. ° ^^' 
In 1790 the Nawab of Arcot had complained that he was 
' compelled to draw the very blood of his ryots to pay his 
present heavy instalment to the Company ' ; and although 
Cornwalhs had shortly afterwards annexed his dominions, 
assuring Parliament and the Company's directors that ' the 
strongest considerations of humanity, justice, and pubhc 
necessity ' had impelled him to this step, there had been no 
apparent improvement.^ 

^ When Lord Minto arrived in the south of India a few years later, the 
poverty of the place at once moved his pity. ' Thousands of country 
people,' he wrote, ' have swarmed into Madras in quest of bread, thou- 
sands are employed on public works, to thousands wiio can't work rice is 


And the forward policy which Wellesley had initiated of 
set purpose did not allow him to pause in the work of con- 
quest. Even before Mysore was thoroughly subdued, he 
was preparing to reduce the Marathas ; and Wellington 
left Seringapatam only to march against Poona. 

The Maratha confederation had not altered its character 
in the twenty years which had elapsed since the treaty between 
them and the British in 1782, but the power of the Peshwa 
had declined until he was absolutely under the control of 
the turbulent chiefs who owed him nominal allegiance. Those 
chiefs had continued to be a disturbing element in India. 
They had made predatory raids on their neighbours. The 
Mughal, the titular Emperor who still reigned at Delhi, was 
in the power of one. Another had encouraged Tipu in his 
^ti-British sentiments. A third had endeavoured to induce 
the Nizam of Haidarabad to repudiate the treaty he had con- 
cluded with Wellesley. All, it is true, professed themselves 
willing and anxious to maintain good relations with the East 
India Company. But this was not enough for the Governor- 
General, for he saw that their acts belied their words. 

A great part of the south of India was now British. 
Haidarabad was under British protection ; for by the treaty 
The Treaty ^^ ^^00 the Nizam had agreed to admit no other 
with Haidar- Europeans save the British in his dominions, to 
' ■ have a certain number of British troops per- 
manently stationed in Haidarabad for the protection of that 
country, to set aside the revenue of certain districts to pay 
for their upkeep, and to submit all disputes that might arise 
with neighbouring states to British arbitration. It is obvious 
that this reduced the Nizam from the rank of a sovereign 
power practically to a vassal ; and it was this system which 
Wellesley endeavoured to introduce with the Marathas. Were 

distributed gratis daily. It is common to see famished wretches expire 
after the first mouthful of food, which their stomachs could no longer 
receive in safety.' 


he to succeed in his design, and to bring to a successful con- 
clusion the far less difficult negotiations of the same character 
that were going on with the ruler of Oudh, it would mean that 
almost the whole of India, with the exception of parts of 
Rajputana, the Punjab, and Kashmir, would be consohdated 
under British authority. 

The grand ideal of Pitt would then be accomplished. Every 
native state ;n the peninsula would be subordinate to the 
British ; no other European nation could attempt The Principle 
to obtain a iooting there ; no native ruler would paramountcy 
be able to indulge in war with his rivals ; and the in K^aT 
Governor-Geieral, appointed in London by Parliament and 
the East India Company, would be supreme from the Ganges 
to Cape Comorin. In the words of one of Wellesley's 
despatches, ' Every principle of true poHcy demands that 
no efiort should be omitted by the British Government to 
establish a permanent foundation of general tranquilHty in 
India, by securing to every state the free enjoyment of its just 
rights and ndependence, and by frustrating every project 
calculated to disturb the possessions, or to violate the rights, 
of the established powers of iHindustan and the Deccan.' 

It is eas7 to stigmatise the forward policy of Wellesley as 
animated by the mere lust of power and conquest, as spring- 
ing solely from fear of the French, as aiming simply at 
the conversion of India into a huge monopoly for Britain.^ 
Potmt as these reasons undoubtedly were, they were not aU, 

L is true that the commercial instinct had much to do with 
the forward policy ; there are few things with which it has 
noi. It is hkewise true that jealousy of the intrusion of other 
Eixopean nations was a strong motive power : but this was 
net unreasonable, seeing how considerably French influence 

No doubt whatever exists as to the reality of Napoleon's designs on 
Inlia. General Decaen was sent out from France, and he was to be 
' cuietly reinforced by troops in French pay sent out by every French, 
Sianish, or Dutch ship going to India, so as to avoid attracting notice,' 
uitil the time came for action. 


had grown a second time in the East. It is equally true that 
Wellesley's despatches to England always emphasised the 
civilising effect of British interference, and shoTved things 
rather in the light in which the English people wished to see 
them than as they actually were. But it must be remem- 
bered that the same applied, in slightly difierert fashion, to 
Cornwallis ; and as those despatches had to be presented to 
Parliament, the apparently incurable hypocrisy and the un- 
limited faculty for complacent self-deception, which seems 
to have become engrained in the British character since the 
puritan era, forced the Governors-General, if nol to disavow 
their purpose of expanding the empire, at least to cloak it 
under the decent obscurity of disinterested huminitarianism. 

But although Wellesley did not yet grasp, as in fact, nobody 
could yet grasp, the complete ideal of the Britisa Empire in 
India, at any rate he saw further than his predecessors : 
the doctrine of the Pax Britannica was already in accepted 
political fact when it was laid down that the i^eto of the 
Governor-General must stop native wars. 

' An intimate alliance, founded upon principles which 
should render the British influence and militarj force the 
Negotiations main support ' of the Marathas was what Wellesley 
Marathas desired ; and he did not cease to press it earnestly 
1801-3. on the Peshwa. But that dignitary, although 

he continued to reside at Poona, no longer possessed any 
authority; he was threatened by Sindhia, the most pover- 
ful of the Maratha chiefs, and his adhesion to Welleshy's 
proposals would have been of little advantage to him. He 
would merely have exchanged one master for another, aad 
the authority of the foreigner would have been more galliig 
and less easy to throw off than that of Sindhia. He refused 
the profiered treaty ; and Wellesley, in tones of angry dB- 
appointment, complained that ' he deliberately preferred a 
situation of degradation and danger, with nominal indepenc- 
ence, to a more intimate connection.' 


Thenceforward the Peshwa temporised, while still endeavour- 
ing to draw his neighbour at Haidarabad from his depend- 
ence. Wellesley grew suspicious, and the British agent at 
the court of Sindhia was now instructed to press the advan- 
tages of alhance in that quarter. Again there was failure : 
Sindhia was willing enough to preserve friendship, but he 
wished for no closer relationship. 

But a new chief had now appeared among the Marathas, 
one Holkar ; and when he defeated Sindhia in a great battle 
on 25th October 1802, the Peshwa fled from Poona, ^j^g Treaty 
and took refuge among the British. In this crisis, of Bassein, 
he demanded to be placed in safety at Bombay : 
and shortly after his arrival there, the now helpless Peshwa 
agreed to Wellesley 's original proposals, and the Treaty of 
Bassein was concluded on 31st December. That treaty was 
the foundation of all our subsequent dealings with the 
Marathas ; but in itself it was of little effect. Sindhia would 
have nothing to do with it ; Holkar laughed it to scorn ; the 
smaller chiefs of the confederation became restless. 

In face of their hostility, the treaty must either have re- 
mained a dead letter or be enforced by arms ; and if the 
former were permitted, the Marathas would still have been 
a danger to the East India Company, and all thought of the 
' complete consolidation of British India,' for which Wellesley 
was avowedly working, must have been given up. 

In the reports which he sent home, the Governor-General 
invariably spoke of war as improbable ; he protested that 
if the Peshwa, and consequently the Treaty of Bassein, were 
not desired by the Marathas, he would instantly rehnquish 
every attempt upon them ; even as late as June 1803 he 
still held out hopes of a peaceful outcome when writing to 

Seven months before that date the armies had been ready ; 
three months before that date they had started. Fearing 
that Poona might be burnt down in the absence of the Peshwa, 


Wellington hurried by forced marches through a wild and 
difficult mountainous country, at the last, indeed, accom- 
pKshing sixty miles in thirty-two hours ; and he occupied 
the Maratha capital without opposition. An ultimatum was 
sent to Sindhia, but he still temporised : ' After my inter- 
view with the Raja (of Berar) you shall be informed,' he sent 
word, ' whether it will be peace or war/ The message was 
taken as an insult ; and although negotiations still continued, 
war was thenceforward inevitable. 

The main plan of operations was clearly sketched out 
by Wellesley. Politically, he hoped to destroy the power 
The Second °^ ^^^ Marathas over the Mughal at Delhi, and 
Maratha to bring him under British protection ; and, in 
' ■ addition, he expected to expand his general scheme 
of tributary alliances. In order to accomplish this, it was 
necessary, from a military point of view, to conquer all those 
dominions between the Jumna and the Ganges which acknow- 
ledged Sindhia ; to root out the French force by which that 
district was protected ; and to extend the East India Com- 
pany's jurisdiction to the Jumna, including Delhi and Agra 
and a chain of forts in that region. Further, the conquest 
of Bundelkhand was contemplated. 

The first campaign began when General Lake,^ in command 
of an army, left Cawnpur on 7th August. After storming the 
Maratha fortress of Aligur, the French troops were defeated 
and forced to retire from the service of Sindhia. Delhi was 
reached, and entered in triumph on 16th September. 

In a vivid despatch, Wellesley described the meeting of the 
British general and the Mughal. ' The crowd in the city was 
extraordinary ; and it was with some difficulty that the 
cavalcade could make its way to the palace. The courts of 

' A valuable biography of this brave General, of whom it was once 
said that ' he could think more clearl}^ under the roar of battle than in 
the calmness and quiet of his tent,' has been published by Colonel Hugh 
Pearse. Lake had gained his experience in the Seven Years' Wars and 
the Imperial Civil War before he went to India in 1800. He died in 
London in 1808, at the age of sixty-four. 


the palace were full of people, anxious to witness the deliver- 
ance of their sovereign from a state of degradation and bondage. 
At length the Commander-in-Chief was ushered into the royal 
presence, and found the unfortunate and venerable Emperor, 
oppressed by the accumulated calamities of old age, degraded 
authority, extreme poverty, and loss of sight ; seated under a 
small tattered canopy, the remnant of his royal state, with 
every external appearance of the misery of his condition/ The 
hyperboUcal language of the native writers assures us that 
the Mughal at once recovered his sight from excess of joy at 
his deliverance ; and certainly his position as the nominal 
chief in a confederation of native princes, all of whom were 
under British authority, would be better than as a fallen 
monarch under the absolute control of Sindhia. In neither 
case would he be possessed of any real power ; but at least 
the British would not continually outrage his dignity. 

Two centuries had passed since the first English ambassador 
had attended at the Court of the Mughal, and had been 
astounded at its magnificence and wealth ; and that same 
ambassador had exhorted his coimtrymen to have nothing 
to do with thoughts of Asiatic conquest, but to confine them- 
selves to trade. What would have been his increduhty had 
it been predicted that within a few generations the British 
would have spread themselves through all India, and would 
one day rescue the Emperor of the whole peninsula from the 
degrading bondage to which he had sunk in the hands of a half- 
savage usurper. 

Lake, however, had little time for ceremony, and still less 
for melancholy reflections on the decay of human greatness ; 
within a few days he pressed on to Agra. That important 
city taken, he went in pursuit of the remains of Sindhia's 
northern army. At the severe battle of Laswari, the enemy 
were destroyed or dispersed ; and a brilhant campaign thus 
came to an end after three months of unvarying success. 

Meanwhile Wellington had been as active in the south of 


the Maratha dominions as Lake in the north. Leaving his 
camp on 8th August 1803, he had marched against the allied 
forces of Sindhia and the Raja of Berar. The important 
fortress of Ahmednagar captured, he followed the two princes 
into the territories of Haidarabad, whither they had gone to 
attack the Nizam. 

Coming up with them at the village of Assaye, Welhngton 
decided on battle, though his army was many times out- 
Assaye, numbered by theirs. The fight was long, severe, 
1803. aQ(j al;; indecisive ; but after heavy losses 

had been inflicted on the British, the natives fled, leaving 
behind an enormous number of dead, besides ninety-eight 
cannon and seven standards. 

Sindhia now made overtures for peace, and appHed for an 
armistice : but as nothing was heard from the Raja of Berar, 
it was refused ; and the decisive victory of Argaum a httle 
later still further weakened the Maratha forces. 

About the same time the Madras army overran and con- 
quered Bundelkhand, while Guzerat fell before the troops of 
the Bombay presidency. Protracted resistance was now 
hopeless : the Marathas were on the verge of ruin ; and on 
30th November, the day after the battle of Argaum, a con- 
ference was requested. It was granted : but the first meet- 
ings resulted in nothing save tedious recriminations. Both 
Welhngton and his enemies looked on the other as the aggressor, 
and it was some time before the representative of the Marathas 
admitted that, however the war might have begun, his master 
was anxious to end it. 

At length, a treaty was concluded with the Raja of Berar, on 
condition that he resigned a great part of his territory ; he was 
unwilling to do so, but Wellington threatened to pursue him to 
his capital atNagpur if he would not agree to the terms offered. 

The whole British army was now free to overwhelm Sindhia ; 
and he, too, quickly sent an emissary to negotiate. Again 
began the interminable disputes as to who was the aggressor, 


which were only cut short by Wellington's brutally direct 
remark that, whoever had started the war, Sindhia had lost 
it. The long conferences lasted nearly three weeks, Sindhia 
disputing vainly over each piece of territory that he was 
required to relinquish. In the end, the treaty was concluded 
on 29th December 1803 ; and Sindhia gave up all the country 
between the Jumna and the Ganges, as well as the districts 
of Jaipur, Jodipur, and Gohud, the fort and territory of 
Baroak, Ahmednagar, and other places ; he abandoned all 
claims on the British Government, and agreed that all the 
minor princes of the Maratha states should be dependent on 
the East India Company. Unwillingly he was forced to enter 
into the general system of alliances, the EngUsh binding 
themselves at the same time not to interfere between him 
and his subjects. No French, or indeed any Europeans or 
even Americans were tc be allowed in his dominions without 
the consent of the Company ; and he was bound to consult 
with them on all his relations with his neighbours. 

The second Maratha War thus ended, as it appeared, in the 
complete subjection of those states. The western side of 
India was therefore added to the enormous con- ^j^^ Annexa- 
federation which Wellesley was building up : the tionofoudh, 
south was already British ; there yet remained 
the north. And here too the Governor-General had accom- 
phshed much, even during the time that the Mysore and 
Maratha Wars were in progress. The conquest of Delhi and 
Agra belongs to the latter struggle ; in Oudh there is a more 
intricate series of events to unravel. That kingdom had 
for many years paid tribute to the East India Company. 
Lying on the frontiers of Bengal, it had been more or less 
subject to British influence since the victories of Chve and 
the administration of Hastings had consolidated British power 
in that district. 

But the rulers of Oudh had still preserved the functions of 
royalty at Lucknow ; and when Wellesley arrived in India, 


they controlled their own army and levied their own taxes. 
The country was large ; the people were industrious ; the 
soil was fertile. 

But during the last few years a terrible change had come 
over the land. The new ruler was far more ostentatious 
Misgovern- than his predecessor, and his resources were 
mfsery^f squandered on external display. Oudh, from 
oudh. being one of the richest of the Indian provinces, 

became one of the poorest. When Cornwallis visited it, he 
was shocked by its desolate appearance ; on aU sides were 
signs of a disordered government and a poverty-stricken people. 
A great part of the blame, it is true, must be imputed to the 
East India Company : for it was from Oudh that Warren 
Hastings had extorted some of the heaviest subsidies. But 
considerable reparation was made when Cornwallis reduced 
the amount of the annual contributions ; and still the state 
of the country did not improve. Rather did it continue to 
deteriorate : when CornwalHs left India, in 1793, he placed it 
on record that ' The evils which prevailed . . . had increased ; 
the finances had fallen into a worse state by an enormous 
accumulated debt ; the same oppressions continued to be 
exercised . . . towards the ryots ; and not only the subjects 
and merchants of Oudh, but those residing under the Com- 
pany's protection, suffered many exactions." And that 
Governor-General attributed the whole source of the evil to 
' the connivance and irregularities of the administration of 

Sir John Shore, the successor of Cornwallis, took the same 
view, and again recommended reform and economy. Were 
nothing done, it was evident that the kingdom and all within 
it must soon be ruined, and, in consequence, the contribution 
annually paid to the East India Company must lapse. 

It seemed, indeed, that the financial system was past 
restoration. ' The discharge of one debt was effected, not 
from the revenue, but by contracting another at an increasing 


interest.' In spite of Shore's policy of non-intervention, he 
was forced to interfere in the affairs of Oudh, to such a crisis 
had matters now come : and, in March 1797, he visited 
Lucknow with the purpose of restoring some semblance of 
order. The unfortunate Governor immediately found him- 
self involved in a maze of court intrigue and scandal ; the 
legitimacy of the reigning prince was impugned, and Shore 
confessed that he was utterly confused by the conflict of 
testimony as to the bastardy of the man with whom he had 
come to remonstrate. Eventually he determined on his 

But matters had not improved when Wellesley arrived ; 
and it was impossible for one who intended to consoUdate 
India to leave this plague-spot of misgovernment on the very 
border of Bengal, Accordingly he pressed a treaty on the 
Prince of Oudh ; but it was a different treaty from that which 
he invited the other native rulers to sign. It provided for 
the abdication of the prince, and it did not provide for a 
successor : the native troops were to be disbanded, since 
they were ' useless, if not dangerous ' ; Enghsh soldiers were 
to be substituted for them ; and a general reform of the 
administration was outlined. 

Objection was naturally taken, but WeUesley stood firm. 
He and his ancestors had held Oudh for seven hundred years, 
said the vizir ; why then should he now be deposed ? His 
soldiers were capable of the defence of the country ; why then 
should they now be disbanded ? 

For answer Wellesley sent a British regiment. The vizir 
complained, equivocated, delayed, and employed the usual 
devices of the weak when strugghng against the strong ; but 
his troops were dismissed, and their arrears of pay settled in 
full by the East India Company to avoid any disorder. 

StiU the vizir complained, and the misery of the kingdom 
continued ; the revenue was, as usual, collected in advance 
from the wretched ryots, and the insecurity of their tenure 


was as fatal to tlie welfare of the country as ever. At length 
it became impossible to haggle over terms any longer ; and 
on 10th November 1801 the treaty was signed. 

The abdication of the prince was not insisted on, and he 
became a puppet in the hands of the English. But the 
whole administration of Oudh from that day passed to the 
East India Company ; and Wellesley anticipated a speedy 
return of order, industry, and prosperity. It did not occur 
during his period of office : but at least one more step was 
taken in the consohdation of the British Indian Empire. 

Wellesley had hoped that the trouble with the Marathas 
was finally at an end ; instead, it was only beginning. In 
„ spite of the treaties which bound them, all the 
fortunes, chiefs were restless. Sindhia was crushed, but 
1803-5. ^^Yy for a time. Bundelkhand was ripe for 

revolt. Bharatpur was a hotbed of intrigue. And there yet 
remained Holkar. The most powerful of all the Maratha 
chiefs since the victory which had driven the Peshwa from 
Poona, he had taken no part in the late war. But while 
he professed his friendship for the East India Company, 
there were few princes with whom he had not conspired 
secretly against the Enghsh. AVhen peace was concluded 
with Sindhia, Holkar too was offered the treaty which Welles- 
ley wished to make with every native ruler. 

He replied amicably, but deceit was in his heart. Inter- 
cepted letters proved his intrigues ; and he was warned. His 
army menaced the British provinces ; and he was asked to 
withdraw it. In reply, he made impossible demands on 
Wellesley, and threatened WelUngton that our ' countries 
should be overrun, plundered, and burnt ; we should not 
have leisure to breathe for a moment, and calamities would 
fall on thousands of human beings in continued war by the 
attacks of his army, which overwhelmed like the waves of the 

Such preposterous language could not be allowed for a 


moment, and Wellington prepared for war. But fortune 
seemed now to have deserted the British arms. Holkar, 
indeed, was forced to retreat, but he was not defeated. It 
was almost impossible for WeUington to advance through 
the Deccan, for that district was suffering from a scarcity that 
might have been called a famine. 

Elsewhere, it is true, one or two successes stood out isolated 
in the general failure of the British arms. Indore was cap- 
tured ; and when Holkar surprised Delhi, that city, which 
had hitherto always capitulated at the first approach of an 
enemy, was gallantly defended. The garrison was so small 
that nobody dared undress, or go off duty. For nine days 
the troops had no rest, and the men were kept awake and in 
good humour by gifts of sweetmeats. At length, after a suc- 
cessful sortie by the British, Holkar retired baffled ; and soon 
afterwards, his southern possessions were conquered, and he 
himself was defeated under the walls of Dig. 

But these small victories could not be set off against our 
misfortunes in Bundelkhand and elsewhere. The British 
army was almost overwhelmed by the rains ; General Monson, 
who was in command, was obliged to spike his guns and leave 
the country as best he could ; and this was but the prelude 
to a long and disastrous retreat through Central India. 

In Bharatpur it was the same. The Raja of that country 
was allied with the British by treaty ; but he was more than 
disposed to join with Holkar. Wellesley remonstrated in 
lofty tones : ' The just principles of policy, as well as the 
characteristic lenity and mercy of the British Government, 
required that a due indulgence should be manifested towards 
the imbecility, ignorance, and indolence of the native chiefs, 
who had been drawn into these acts by the depravity and 
artifices of their servants and adherents.' But his words 
were of no effect : the Raja disregarded the treaty ; and an 
army was sent against him. The strength of the fortress of 
Bharatpur defied all our efforts ; after repeated assaults, and 



heavy loss, it was found impossible to capture it. Meanwhile 
there were continual disputes with Sindhia, and no advan- 
tage was gained against Holkar : eventually the two chiefs 
joined forces. The whole Maratha trouble seemed about to 
begin again. 

But the expenses of the war were enormous. The directors 
of the East India Company had long chafed under the forward 
Recall of policy. They were now able to urge that it was 
weuesiey, not merely costly, but that it also led to nothing ; 
that our conquests were not permanent, and that 
they were unprofitable even if they were permanent. They 
could point to the miserable poverty of the Madras presidency ; 
to the wretched state of Oudh ; to the anarchy of the Maratha 
territories. All these troubles could, with some plausibihty, 
be ascribed to Wellesley ; and the expenditure they involved 
was undeniable. The directors of the Company omitted 
to remark that under his rule the menace of a French con- 
quest of India had been dissipated. 

The British Government became alarmed. It was the 
darkest hour of the struggle with Napoleon. The French 
His Policy armies were at Boulogne, menacing England 
Abandoned, every day ; Europe lay at the feet of the 
triumphant dictator ; and Trafalgar was not yet won. 
It was no time to conquer India when England herself 
might fall. Accordingly the Ministry yielded to the repre- 
sentations of the East India Company. Wellesley was re- 
called ; and in his place Cornwallis was sent out for a second 
term of ofiice, now in extreme old age, feeble, and lying almost 
at death's door. There was a sudden and complete reversal 
of pohcy : the new Governor-General was charged to make 
peace with the Marathas on almost any terms ; and an era of 
severe economy set in. 

So ended Wellesley 's Governor-Generalship in defeat and 
apparent failure. The expansion he had planned was dis- 
approved. The system of alliances with the natives, so 


elaborately constructed, collapsed like a house of cards. 
The British put aside their dream of empire in India, and 
once more became commercial. 

But the reaction lasted for a few years only. The main 
features of Wellesley's policy were amply justified long before 
his death. He had seen that there would be no ^^^ eventu- 
peace for India until the Marathas were crushed ; any vindi- 
and crushed they were, after a long and severe 
struggle fifteen years later. He had declared that every 
native ruler must be brought to depend on the sovereign 
British power ; and the next fifty years saw the gradual 
accomphshment of his idea. He perceived that the whole 
of India must be protected against the savage tribes of the 
north by a large army, and a consolidated system of defence : 
the general experience of the nineteenth century proved the 
truth of his words, and it is still the standard doctrine of 
the present day. 



When Lord WeUesley, the fourth Governor-General of British 
India, arrived at Calcutta in the year 1798, the fate of the 
great oriental peninsula was still undecided. India as a 
whole might have fallen either to the English, the French, 
or the Marathas ; or it might have been spHt up once more into 
small provinces mider separate Hindu and Musalman rulers, 
after a more or less prolonged period of anarchy and civil 
war. But when Wellesley left the East seven years later, 

^ Authorities. — Mill's History of India, which stops at 1805, is con- 
tinued by H. H. Wilson as far as 1835. Wilson is more impartial and 
interesting than Mill ; but then he had been in India, and Mill had not. 
In addition, Minto's Life and Letto-^ should be consulted for the term of 
his Governor-Generalship. For the whole period, Hunter is an indis- 
pensable guide ; Malleson's Native States of India is also useful. 


only the English and the Marathas counted as factors in the 
struggle for the empire of India ; and between these two 
the English held an enormous permanent advantage, 
although at the time the Marathas were apparently 
victorious. Wellesley could therefore justly claim that he 
had ' finally placed the British power in India in a command- 
ing position.' 

But with that curious alternation of advance and retreat 
which appears in every phase of our pohtics, the time had come 
Abandon- when the forward military policy of Britain in Asia 
Forward ^ ^^^ ^^ ^® abandoned. Its expense had frightened 
Policy. the directors of the East India Company, and 

had made even the imperial authorities uneasy. Cornwallis 
was hurriedly sent out to patch up a general peace, and to 
economise in every department of the State ; while Wellesley 
on his return to England had to run the gauntlet of abuse, and 
to be the butt of that uninformed and prejudiced criticism 
which it is the eternal privilege of the stay-at-home to direct 
at those who have acted instead of merely talking. A vain 
attempt was made to impeach him in the House of Commons. 
One Member of Parliament arraigned his conduct in Oudh, 
' by which the Nawab in defiance of justice had been degraded 
and disgraced in the eyes of the world.' Other charges 
were added, consonant with a recent motion by Sir Philip 
Francis, whose inexhaustible venom was directed at one 
Governor-General after another, that ' to pursue schemes of 
conquest and aggrandisement in India is repugnant to the 
wish, the honour, and the policy of this country.' 

But the agitation against Wellesley fell flat. Fox frankly 
avowed that since the trial of Warren Hastings he would 
have no more to do with Indian impeachments ; even the 
seconder of the motion declared that he was ashamed of it ; 
and the member who had originally brought it forward was 
rejected by his constituents at the next election. An inter- 
mittent controversy on the subject was, it is true, maintained 


for some years, but the feeble attempts to disgrace Wellesley 
all failed ; and the East India Company, which had been 
hostile to him on his retm:n as one who had wasted its sub- 
stance, came in time to recognise his great services before his 

Wellington's recent conquests in India, indeed, had aroused 
comparatively little attention at home, for the terrific struggle 
with Napoleon in Europe overshadowed the remoter pohtics 
of Asia ; and British Indian problems were already far too 
intricate to be anything but the occupation of speciaUsts. 
Wisely recognising the necessary limitations of their know- 
ledge, English poHticians from this time generally left Indian 
afiairs alone. There was some temporary excitement when 
the renewal of the East India Company's charter was debated 
in the first Reformed Parliament of 1833, and a fundamental 
change was made in the character of that powerful corporation ; ^ 
the terrible disaster of 1841 in Afghanistan, and the Mutiny 
of 1857, made not England alone, but all Europe, shudder ; 
but apart from these events, which in the popular estimation 
stood out incorrectly as almost the sole features worthy of 
remembrance in a crowded century, the British people as a 
whole were content to remain in ignorance of their Indian 

When Cornwalhs arrived a second time in the East, 
a dying man, to change the whole forward poHcy of 
Wellesley for one of retrenchment and peace, his report on the 
condition of India was extremely pessimistic. According to 

^ I append the names and dates of some of the ephemei'al tracts and 
pamphlets published regarding India at this time — The Present State and 
Failure Prospects of the Free Trade and Colonisation of India, 1829; Aye 
or No on the India Question : A Few Words to the Reformed Parliament, 
1833 — both treating of the renewal of the Company's charter ; Reasons for 
the Establishment of a New Bank in India, 1836; The Export of Coolies 
and other Labourers to Mauritius, 1842 ; Reasons for Railways in Madras 
and Bombay, 1847; Is India to have Railivays ?'lS53. To these may be 
added the general series known aa India Reform Tracts, representing the 
advanced radical opinion of mid-Victorian times. The numerous works 
of the Evangelical school must be studied for the project of introducing 
Christianity in India, which engaged much attention at this time. 


the new Governor-General, ' the most brilliant success could 
afford no solid benefit ' ; the state of the finances was ' most 
discouraging ' ; the aUiance with the Peshwa was ' an in- 
tolerable burden ' ; it was ' with great regret ' that he saw 
the treaty with Haidarabad ; and he finally declared, in a 
phrase that can only be read with amazement, that ' not 
the least unfortunate consequences of . . . our alliances 
has been the gradually increasing ascendency of the British 
influence and authority.' 

But Cornwallis belonged to a school of Anglo-Indian states- 
men whose day was over ; and although he and his successor 
wished to stop the expansion of the empire, they were only 
able to delay it for a few years. An ignominious agreement 
was at once arranged with the Marathas, to the utter disgust 
of many of the officers and civilians who had served under 
Wellesley, and who foresaw that a final struggle with that 
confederation was inevitable ; and Sir George Barlow, who 
succeeded automatically to the Governor-Generalship on the 
death of Cornwallis, was prepared to go even further in his 
desire for economy. 

Much of the land in dispute Avith Sindhia was now re- 
stored ; all of Holkar's territories were given back. Bundelk- 
hand alone was retained, but it was not thoroughly subdued ; 
and the Rajas of Rajputana, whom Britain had sworn to 
protect from the Marathas, were abandoned. In these 
measures Barlow was supported by the directors of the East 
India Company, and by the Council at Calcutta, which 
declared that ' a certain extent of dominion, local power, 
and revenue would be cheaply sacrificed for tranquillity and 
security within a more contracted circle ' ; they believed, 
too, that nothing could now be ' apprehended from the further 
depredations of banditti,' and they vainly hoped that these 
concessions would be accepted as a sign of magnanimity. 

Barlow was one of those men of hard, cold character who 
can only see a short way ahead, but who follow that way with 


undeviating purpose. His inflexible and unsympathetic 
manner soon became unpopular in the East, and his policy 
was disliked by the Cabinet at home ; but for some time the 
members of the British Government could not agree as to the 
appointment of a successor. At length the choice fell on 
Lord Minto, who served, as he himself said, as a sort of peace- 
offering between the opponents. His reputation in England 
was that of an able man of moderate opinions ; to Anglo- 
Indians, however, he was something of an unknown quantity. 
Proud of being numbered ' among those whom Burke loved 
best and most trusted,' he had been one of the managers at 
the trial of Warren Hastings, and might therefore have been 
expected to favour the extreme exponents of the doctrine of 
British non-intervention in the affairs of the independent 
native Indian states ; but, on the other hand, he had come 
much under the influence of the younger Pitt, who had been 
directly responsible for the appointment of Wellesley. 

His actions showed Minto to be a firm yet cautious ruler. 
Of strong common sense, and gifted with a playful, sunny 
disposition — even his ofiicial correspondence is occasionally 
reHeved by a witty remark ^ — the six years of his governorship 
mark an intermediate period between the conquests of 
Wellesley and the long series of wars under his successors, 
Hastings and Amherst. 

Among the instructions which Minto had received from the 
East India Company, particular stress had been laid upon 
the policy of non-intervention, which the directors consist- 
ently favoured ; and the Governor-General honourably en- 
deavoured to obey orders without weakening the prestige of 
the British in Asia. But those who have entered on the path 
of empire cannot draw back unless they resign their calHng 

^ The mass of routine work was already so great as to occupy prac- 
tically the whole time of the Governor-General. Minto laughingly 
alludes in his correspondence to his strong tendency to go to sleep when 
the monotony was more than usually tiresome; but 'if the sovereign 
nods,' he added, ' the empire must fall to pieces.' 


altogether ; and it is significant of the onward march of those 
forces which no ruler and no policy can neglect or oppose 
with impunity, that under the pacific rule of Minto the in- 
fluence of Britain began to penetrate among states that lay 
far beyond the frontier fixed by Wellesley, while the first signs 
of our expansion appeared in lands which even WelHngton 
would have regarded it as madness to invade. 

Once more it was the fear of French rivalry that urged the 
British forward. The French had indeed lost everything in 
Diplomatic I^^dia. But Napoleon, who was then at the 
Missions zenith of his fame, still possessed dreams of 
un er in o. ^gjg^^jg conquest ; and France yet possessed im- 
portant island stations on the high seas that might have been 
used as dangerous bases for an attack on the eastern con- 
tinent. Under Minto, therefore, the Moluccas, Bourbon, 
Mauritius, and Java were all seized by Britain ; ^ and French 
power in the Indian Ocean existed no more until the con- 
quest of Madagascar was accomplished nearly a century later. 

But it was hardly by sea that a descent on India was now 
feared. France had recently concluded an alhance with 
Russia ; both were endeavouring to extend their influence 
in Persia and Afghanistan in order, as was supposed, that 
their combined forces might make an attack on India over- 
land. The two powers had as yet made no progress towards 
an amicable understanding with the wild Afghan tribes ; but 
in the enfeebled and corrupt Court of Persia their influence 
was soon supreme. Magnificent embassies and numerous 
military retinues were sent thither ; French political agents 
seemed suddenly to swarm all over Asia, and some even 
appeared to tempt the Indian princes from their alhance with 
England. It was rumoured that Napoleon had planned a 
descent on Persia through Turkey and Asia Minor ; and, 
though the plan of campaign which was attributed to him 

^ For the history of these islands under British rule, see book viii. 
chap. iv. and vol. iv. 


now appears fantastically impossible, the man at whose feet 
the whole of Europe then lay seemed able at that time to 
accompUsh anything to which he set his hand. 

At any rate, Mnto wisely determined to leave nothing to 
chance, and he prepared to improve the defences of India ; 
at the same time remarking that, in the event of actual 
invasion, it was better to meet the enemy in Persia than 
in British territory. In addition, he decided to send embassies 
to Persia and Afghanistan, in order to counteract the designs 
of the French in those coim tries. These measures, it is true, 
involved heavy expenditure, and some departure from the 
policy of non-intervention ; but the East India Company 
perceptibly relaxed its attitude of strict economy when the 
justice of Minto's representations was reahsed. 

There was nothing novel in the appearance of a British 
embassy at an Asiatic court. For many years every visit 
by an agent of the Company to the courts of India had been 
regarded as an opening up of fresh relations with foreign 
powers. An official ambassador from England had already 
appeared in China. And commercial relations with Persia 
were not new, while Wellesley had sent an ambassador to 
that country in 1800. 

But the two British agents who visited Persia while Minto 
was Governor- General of India were both unsuccessful in 
their missions. The first failed because of the overbearing 
tone in which he insisted on the instant dismissal of the French 
members of the royal circle. The second certainly concluded 
a treaty with the Shah, but this proved merely a negative 
advantage ; for the only important clause of that treaty 
compelled Britain to furnish military aid in the event of 
Persia being at war with a foreign power ; and when Persia 
became involved in a ruinous struggle with Russia in 1826, 
we refused to fulfil our promise. 

But by the time the two ambassadors had returned from 
Persia, the menace from Napoleon was less urgent. Spain 


was now opposing a brave resistance to his invasion of the 
south of Europe, and before Minto left India the great army 
of the French Emperor had fallen a victim to the snows of 

More important in their ultimate results were the other 
diplomatic missions organised by Minto. For the first time 
in the history of India a British embassy crossed the Indus, 
and pressed on to Peshwar, where the chief of the Afghans 
was interviewed ; while a second embassy visited the head 
of the Sildis at Lahore. Thus was the scope of Indian pohcy 
widened, and the circle of British diplomatic influence en- 
larged ; and although no immediate territorial aggrandise- 
ment was obtained, the temptation already existed when the 
magnificence of the Punjab became known. And there were 
also solid reasons to be urged for obtaining a securer frontier 
against the Afghans, while mihtary ambition could dwell on 
the chances of glory and promotion in a campaign beyond the 
Indus. Another thirty years, and British armies had been 
seen both in Kabul and the Punjab. 

But Minto was far from such thoughts of expansion. With 
the limitations that had been imposed upon him, it was 
enough if he could keep the British possessions intact, and 
preserve order therein. Bundelkhand had not been thoroughly 
reduced during Wellesley's term of office, and Minto was 
forced to undertake a number of punitive mihtary opera- 
tions before peace could be restored in that country. The 
affairs of the Madras presidency hkewise required attention ; 
there was continued disaffection in the local army ; and 
Barlow, who was now Governor of the South, had made 
himself generally unpopular there, as he had in Bengal, by 
his passion for economy, that least appreciated of all the 
unattractive virtues, both in public and domestic hfe. 

Another matter that called for stern measures was the in- 
creasing depredations of the dacoits. Those robber gangs 
had of late imposed a terrorist system on many parts of India. 


' If a family was half murdered, and half tortured, the tor- 
tured survivors could not be prevailed upon to appear against 
the criminals. Men have been found vnth the limbs and 
half the flesh of their bodies consumed by slow fixe, who per- 
sisted in saying that they had fallen into their own fire. . . . 
They knew, if they spoke, they would either themselves or 
the remaining members of their famihes, be despatched the 
same evening.' Such are Minto's own words ; and although 
he was unable to suppress the dacoits altogether, much was 
done to reduce their evil power. 

Thus in keeping order on the frontiers and inland, in re- 
buking the pretensions of foreign potentates, native rajas, 
or predatory chiefs, the busy seven years of Minto's rule in 
India drew to a close ; and the directors of the East India 
Company received the news of his intention to retire almost 
at the same time that they demanded his resignation. A 
home-loving man, the Governor-General had for months 
counted the very days tiU he should return to Scotland and 
his family ; but, hurrying northwards immediately on his 
arrival in England, he was taken suddenly ill and died on 
the road. Long afterwards, the letters he had written from 
Calcutta to his wife at Minto, fondly anticipating many years 
of quiet happiness together in the decline of their Hves, were 
found tied up in black string, and endorsed in her hand- 
writing, ' Poor Fools.' The earthly hope was turned to dust 
in the very moment of its fulfilment. 

The Marquis of Hastings, who followed Minto as Governor- 
General in 1813, had been a man of no great distinction in 
England ; ^ the gossips said, indeed, that he owed marquia of 
his appointment mainly to his friendship with Hastings, 
the Prince Regent. But, as often happens among 
men of aristocratic family in whom the tradition of govern- 
ment is hereditary, he rose to the occasion ; and the long 

^ He had, however, taken part in the Imperial Civil War as a young 
man, and General Burgoyne declared that he ' behaved to a charm.' 


period of ten years during which he was the supreme governor 
of British India marked a still further advance of the British 
power in Asia. If the forward pohcy was not again initiated 
of set purpose, it was at any rate followed in fact. The 
British had conquered half India, and the directors of the 
East India Company would have been well satisfied to have 
kept their dominions, without either expansion or contrac- 
tion. But the last eight years had clearly proved that it was 
impossible to stand still. CornwaUis had urgently desired 
peace ; he had been obhged to give up territory to obtain it. 
Barlow had done the same ; but his concessions had been 
derided as weakness by the natives, and every httle prince 
and chief had assumed a tone of supercihous condescension 
in deaHng with the exalted heads of the British Government 
in India. Even when the passion for economy was at its 
height, Barlow had been compelled to send punitive expedi- 
tions to restore order in various places. Minto likewise was 
no lover of war, and he had no wish to incur increased re- 
sponsibihties, although he would not have shirked them had 
they become necessary. And they did in fact become neces- 
sary ; for he was obhged to keep old foes in check, to open up 
relations with new states, which were also potential enemies, 
to conquer islands in the Indian Ocean, to extirpate pirates 
in the Persian Gulf, and to offer to protect China against the 

Peace remained indeed the ideal for British India. But 
there could be no real peace until India was altogether British ; 
for every hungry band of frontier robbers, every petty raja 
who remained unsubdued in the interior, could descend on 
the fertile and industrious British provinces to plunder and 
ravage at will. One such raid would disturb the sense of 
security ; a succession would destroy all feeling of imperial 

A typical instance of the frontier dangers to which India 
was exposed was provided by the Nepal War, which occupied 


the first two years of Hastings' governorship.^ The king- 
dom of Nepal Ues on the long slope between the Himalayas 
and the Eiver Ganges. Its northern boundaries The Nepal 
are lost in the eternal snows where mountain hes ^^^^ 1814-5. 
heaped upon mountain in stupendous confusion ; its southern 
hmit was claimed as including part at least of the great 
agricultural district that leads down to the sacred river. 
The original population of mixed Tibetan cast had been 
subject for generations to the warlike tribes of Gurkhas ; 
and that fiery race had frequently descended on Bengal to 
plunder the weaker Hindus. Their ravages had not ceased 
when Bengal passed under the rule of the East India Com- 
pany ; and although they were often divided by internal 
feuds, the Gurkhas were yet strong enough to conquer their 

Treaties were made with Nepal by the British in 1791 and 
1801 ; both were broken by the warriors of the north. 
Wellesley would have attacked them, but was prevented by 
his recall. Barlow, utterly misunderstanding their predatory 
character, proposed mutual concessions as a basis for the 
dehmitation of the frontier. Long negotiations were entered 
into, but the raids continued ; for the Gurkhas treated the 
mild suggestions of the Enghsh Governor as a confession of 
impotence, and plundered while they parleyed. Minto sent 
a force to defend the frontier in 1809, and to expel the 
intruders ; but he found it impossible to defend a frontier 
seven hundred miles long. 

Hastings took a more effective com'se. By decisive action 
he gave the Nepalis the alternative of peace or war ; and 
when they returned an evasive answer he at once proclaimed 
war, on 1st November 1814. 

In the Nepal capital of Khatmandu, there were two opinions 
as to the wisdom of fighting. Those who knew the most of 
the previous deeds of the English in India, declared that 

* Wright's History of Nepal contains a good account of this campaign. 


whereas the Gurkhas had formerly only chased deer, they 
must now prepare to fight with tigers ; but these were opposed 
by the party which had heard of our failure to storm the 
great fortress of Bharatpur. If, it was said, the English could 
not overcome the puny works of man, how then should 
they be able to conquer the Nepalis, who dwelt in the very 
fastnesses of God ? 

The latter view prevailed. There could hardly be a more 
convincing illustration of the loss of prestige which even one 
isolated check to European arms occasions in the mind of 

The failure of Minto to protect the British frontier from 
Gurkha raids decided Hastings against a merely defensive 
war ; and the great army of 30,000 men which he gathered 
together was instructed to separate into four divisions, and 
to march directly against the capital of Nepal. But the 
country was excessively difl&cult. The long ascent to the 
mountains was impossible in the rainy season, and unhealthy 
during the other months of the year ; communication \^ath 
the base was necessarily insecure ; it was, moreover, doubtful 
whether sufficient supphes for so large a force could be obtained 
from a generally poor soil. The whole of Nepal was rugged 
and mountainous ; the passes were dangerous, and dotted 
with forts ; blinding snowstorms at times swept over the 
land. And the Gurkhas were a brave, impetuous, and clever 
foe, who well understood how to use the advantages which 
nature had given them. 

Small headway was made at first, for the British com- 
manders, with the belief in sheer courage and a disregard for 
scientific warfare that is typically British, attacked the Gurkha 
forts with men and not with cannon, only to be driven back 
with terrible loss. ' The results of the first campaign," says 
the miUtary historian of the war, ' must have confounded the 
calculations of the noble Marquis and every one else. That 
portion of the army with which it was meant to make an 


impression on the enemy in the seat of his power remained 
inactive, while the skirmishers on the left flank, which could 
have been only intended to produce a diversion, succeeded 
to an extent that shook the Gurkha on his throne.' 

A definite treaty was drawn up on 28th November 1815 : 
but the Raja refused to sign it, and a further expedition was 
sent against him. This time he gave way, ceding the frontier 
provinces of Kamaon and Gerwhal, and permitting a British 
agent to reside in his capital. 

By the previous treaty of 1801 a British Residency was 
also to have been established in Nepal. But the minister 
whom Wellesley had appointed to that post had found every 
obstacle placed in his way even before he reached the capital ; 
and when he at last arrived at Khatmandu, a short stay con- 
vinced him that nothing could be done with a people ' among 
whom no engagements, however solemnly contracted, were 
considered binding when deviation from them ' seemed to 
promise a temporary advantage. The new ambassador was 
less openly obstructed ; but he soon discovered that the spot 
assigned for his residence was a barren piece of land, water- 
less and very unhealthy, and supposed to be the abode of 
demons. Science, however, circumvented the superstitious 
intentions of the Nepalis ; and in a few years cultivation had 
made the grounds of the British Residency one of the best 
wooded and most beautiful spots in the whole valley. 

Thus ended the first of the series of wars in which the defence 
of the enormous extent of the northern frontier of India was 
to engage the British. But the Nepalis, although defeated, 
were in no mood for tame submission. The Raja applied 
to China, of which empire he was nominally a fief, for aid in 
revenging the invasion of his territories.^ He received the 

' He had already applied for Chinese aid in 1814, concluding his appeal 
with the words, ' Consider if you abandon your dependents that the 
Englisli Avill soon be masters of Lhc^sa' — (Boulger's Hintory of China). 
Ninety years elapsed before the British expedition to Tibet proved that 
there was some truth in his forecast. 


cold reply that he had only himself to blame for the punish- 
ment that had been inflicted on him. Not discomraged by 
the rebuff, he began to intrigue with the native princes of 
India, attempting to detach from the British those who had 
signed treaties of aUiance with the Governor-General, and to 
provoke to open war against us those who had not yet come 
under our influence. His plots were discovered before they 
could do harm, and as he was unwilling himself to venture 
on another war, there was no further trouble with Nepal for 
many years. 

But the treaty with Nepal was hardly concluded before it 
became necessary to check an enemy in India itself. The 
The Third third and last round in the struggle with the 
Maratha Marathas was now to be fought. Ten years had 
^^'^ ^ • proved the uselessness of the concessions of Corn- 
wallis and the rigid economy of Barlow ; the pacification 
they had planned had brought only an increase of disord'^r in 
Central and Western India. The older chiefs of the Marathas 
had indeed been almost crushed by Wellesley, and they 
never thoroughly recovered from his attack. Holkar was 
for a time intoxicated and insane ; Sindhia was reduced 
to beg for a pension from his late foes ; the Raja of Berar 
had to implore British assistance in securing his dominions ; 
and the Gaekwar of Baroda convinced even Barlow that his 
country was in so desperate a condition that it would have 
been ruined had not the Governor-General sanctioned a 
departure in this case from the strict policy of non- 

But though the Maratha princes were thus impotent, the 
hereditary fighting instinct of their tribes remained. The 
neighbouring countries were again plundered and pillaged ; and 
while the British had sworn to protect Rajputana from the 
fury of the Marathas, the several states which are included 
under that collective name were abandoned to the tender 
mercies of freebooters whose fighting qualities had been im- 


proved by a long war, but who still remained at bottom mere 

Against such men the Eajputs were powerless. The Peshwa 
would not interfere. And when Holkar amd Sindhia began 
once more to recover a little of their old authority, the profits 
of such marauding expeditions were far too valuable to be 
lightly foregone. They detested the British. They were 
constantly plotting against us ; and by carrying fire and 
sword unopposed into the territories of those allies who should 
have been, but were not, protected by us, they considerably 
reduced both the prestige and the actual power of the 
English in India. 

They were joined, too, by other independent gangs of 
robbers, the Pindaris : men who attacked helpless villages, 
but ran away at the first sight of a soldier ; fighting, when 
fighting was absolutely necessary, on horseback and armed 
with rude pikes, swords, clubs and sticks, and occasionally 
with matchlocks. Whole communities went in constant 
fear of these wretches, for the tortures they inflicted were of 
a ghastly character. They would enclose a man's head in a 
bag of ashes and dilst, beating his face until he was suffocated ; 
a more refined cruelty was to use hot ashes and powdered 
chillies. At other times their captives were pinioned, and 
either boihng oil was sprinkled over them, or straw was tied 
round their bodies and fired ; while infants were tossed on 
the sword, and their mothers violated even while bemoaning 
the fate of husband or child. 

The doctrine of non-intervention might be, and was, in 
fact, pressed far ; but no man born in a civilised country 
could see such deeds occur and not abandon all his theories 
until these savage practices had been put down \\ath a firm 
hand. Minto had defended the British possessions in India 
as best he could, consistently with the instructions he had 
received from London, although he realised that his action 
was at the utmost only palliative ; Hastings was forced to 



sterner action. The ravages of the Marathas and the Pin- 
daris both increased during the Nepal War ; and, the British 
troops being occupied far away on a dangerous campaign, 
their demands became higher and more insolent in tone, it 
being even threatened at one time that they would wreak 
their wrath on Calcutta. 

At the close of the year 1815 they plundered three hundred 
villages, and wounded, tortured, and murdered four thousand 
persons of both sexes, and of all ages ; and as their descents 
were made without warning and their subsequent departure 
was as rapid, it was seldom that punishment could overtake 
them. It is true that it was difficult for Hastings to make a 
move. No help could be expected from our quondam allies 
of Rajputana, for they were in a state of absolute incapacity. 
The Raja of Jodhpur pretended idiocy, and resigned his 
throne to a dissolute prince who was eventually assassinated. 
The Raja of Udaipur was robbed of his possessions by 
military adventurers. The Raja of Jaipur was a slave to a 
Mohammedan dancing-girl. 

And while Hastings was thus driven to rely solely on the 
British power, his superiors in London still clung fast to the 
fatal idea of non-intervention. On 28th September 1815, the 
Secret Committee of the East India Company had sent him 
word that ' the system which was consolidated at the close 
of the last Maratha War should be maintained with as little 
change as could be avoided ' ; while Canning warned him 
that the British Government was ' unwilling to incur the 
risk of a general war for the uncertain purpose of extirpating 
the Pindaris,' and advocated the ' judicious management of 
our existing relations ' for a solution of every difficulty. Once 
again was shown the impossibihty of a Council in London 
appreciating accurately the situation in a country thousands 
of miles away with which its members were not personally 
acquainted : the advices sent out by the Secretary of State were 
a mere bundle of useless words, while Hastings was faced by 


concrete facts. Had the Council been able to override the 
Governor-General on this matter, there is no question that 
the British power in India would have dechned rapidly, as 
the knowledge of its inabiUty to put down disorder reached 
every petty raja who subsisted by preying on his richer 

But Hastings was not the man to let official instructions 
stand in his way when necessity dictated a different course. A 
large army was assembled, and in April 1817 members of the 
Pindaris and many other insurgents were caught and defeated. 
The most important of these gangs were broken up during 
the next few months, and the scattered remnants fled to 
hiding in the hills. Meanwhile the Treaty of Bassein was 
annulled, and the Peshwa was coerced into accepting a new 
treaty called of Poona, on 15th June 1817, by which, instead of 
himself maintaining troops to protect the Maratha countries, 
he was forced to pay the British for their protection by the 
cession of various provinces ; and, in addition, he was 
compelled to give up various fortresses and to agree never 
again to interfere in the external pohtical relations of his 
state. The latter provision was hardly worth the paper on 
which it was written : but the Peshwa assented reluctantly 
and with many protests. 

At the same time alliances were concluded with other more 
friendly rulers, which were useful in that they permitted the 
Bengal regiments to march through their countries without 
hindrance ; and, on 14th September 1817, Hastings assumed 
command of the great army of 113,000 troops and 300 cannon 
which was finally to subdue the Marathas. Delayed awhile 
by the monsoon, which rendered the rivers too swollen to 
cross and the roads impracticable for marching, and hindered 
later by an outbreak of spasmodic cholera which killed hundreds 
of men and laid Hastings himself low, the opportunity was 
used by the Peshwa to attempt to bribe our subsidiary forces 
into treachery ; and on the departure of Mountstuart Elphin- 


stone, our envoy at Poona, the British Residency was burnt 
down. But the dupUcity of the Peshwa was discovered, as 
was also that of Sindhia, whose letters of intrigue to the Raja 
of Nepal were intercepted ; and when it was found that other 
Maratha chiefs, including the Raja of Nagpiir, had thrown 
in their lot with their nominal ruler, it became evident that 
the whole Maratha confederacy would take up arms against the 

The campaign which followed is among the most brilhant 
in our mihtary history. The resources of the Marathas were 
not indeed large, either in the number of their men or in the 
amount of available munitions of war. The British were 
incomparably superior in both ; and we had the further im- 
measurable advantage that a large part of our army con- 
sisted of Europeans, while our native regiments were led by 
European officers. But the Marathas were operating in their 
own country, and they were assisted by their own people. 
The leaders had in their retinue a considerable number of 
A-rab mercenaries, who fought desperately on every occasion. 
And they had in their power the small British settlement at 
each court, and the few British traders in each district, whose 
situation at this time became extremely dangerous. In the 
case of Nagpur, for instance, it was only a sudden sally, con- 
trary to orders on the part of Captain Fitzgerald, which broke 
up the Maratha force that was about to attack the British 
Residency ; even then it was not until a branch of the main 
army was sent that there was any real security. 

But one by one the chiefs were defeated : the Peshwa was 
chased relentlessly as he fled from place to place, tracked all 
over the country by the dead and dying cattle he left on the 
road ; and at length he was forced to surrender, protesting 
that he had never intended to fight. He was given a Hberal 
pension, but deprived of all his powers ; and with his capture 
the main issue of the war was brought to a successful end. 

But the military operations which Hastings had planned 


were still far from being accomplished. He had determined 
that this time nothing short of complete and absolute conquest 
was of any avail ; there were to be no concessions to soothe 
wounded vanity, no paper treaties to be broken as soon as 
he had returned to Calcutta, no unconquered district which 
might serve as a centre for future rebeUion when the army 
was withdrawn. The remains of the Pindaris were pursued 
to their obscure haunts, and captured ; it was found that 
their great fear was lest they should be sent as prisoners to 
Europe, by which place they understood Calcutta. And the 
last leaders of the Marathas were pursued to those savage 
districts where, bereft of their following, they had taken refuge 
in the wild jungle- covered hills, among those dense unhealthy 
thickets in which the still uncivilised aboriginal inhabitants 
of India lurked hopelessly, and obtained a miserable subsist- 
ence by living on roots and herbs. There the Maratha chiefs 
had made common cause with the savages, and given them 
licence to plunder their late dominions. Had these not been 
suppressed, they would have become a permanent danger ; 
but, in 1819, a concerted attack was made on the hills, and the 
last hiding-places of our conquered foes were destroyed. 

In these stern punitive measures, which lasted for months 
after the regular fighting was finished, there was no question 
of generosity to a fallen enemy. It was the pacification of 
Western India that Hastings was striving for, and it was that 
which he accomplished. In subsequent years, there were occa- 
sional sporadic raids by those few Pindaris whose retreats 
had remained hidden from the eyes of the keenest of scouts ; 
but their name had ceased to inspire terror. The greater 
part of the Maratha territories was annexed to British 
India ; but some few provinces were given back to Holkar 
and Sindhia. Those chiefs had now, however, hardly even 
the shadow of their former power; and their intrigues were 
thenceforward as harmless as their animosity. 

The whole fabric of the Maratha confederacy had now 


utterly collapsed. But settlement after a war of such magni- 
tude was a matter of some difficulty, for it afiected far more 
than the conquered country, large as it was. So great a 
change in the poHtical map of India touched the neighbour- 
ing states of Rajputana and Haidarabad as directly as 
the proper territories of the East India Company. 

But Hastings proved a great statesman as well as an able 
soldier. Some fifty thousand square miles of country were 
brought imder British rule, and four million subjects were 
thereby added to the British Empire. A detailed plan was 
laid down for the administration of this great expanse of 
territory. The people were to be protected from that foul 
parasite, the revenue farmer. No new taxes were to be im- 
posed ; neither were any old ones to be aboHshed, unless 
they were obviously unjust ; but the existing taxes were to 
be levied according to the actual cultivation of the land, and 
not at the caprice of a zamindar. Further, no legal innova- 
tions were to be introduced : natives were to continue to 
administer the civil law, while the criminal law passed to 
British judges. 

Elsewhere in the conquered countries, when annexation 
was considered inadvisable, the territory was either ceded to 
the Gaekwar of Baroda or the Nizam of Haidarabad, in 
exchange for other of their provinces which gave cohesion 
to the British possessions ; or it was restored to the 
original native sovereigns, and a diplomatic agent established 
at each of their courts. Treaties of alliance were signed with all 
of the Maratha chiefs whom Hastings still permitted to rule ; 
and the princes of Rajputana hkewise sought his friendship. 

In every case, the substance of the agreement was the same. 
The native promised his allegiance, and miUtary service when 
required; the British guaranteed the integrity of his dominions, 
and at the same time stipulated that we should refrain from 
intervention in the internal affairs of such states. 

In the main the agreements were faithfully kept on both 


sides. It was, however, impossible in practice for the British 
agent at a native court to abstain from intervention in the 
not infrequent case of the raja being hopelessly incompetent ; 
still less could he maintain a neutral attitude when, as often 
happened, his advice was directly asked. In this respect the 
British did not adhere strictly to the treaties ; the general 
good of the state was of more importance than the personal 
interest of its ruler and a pedantic observance of the letter 
of the agreement. As regards the native princes themselves, 
no power on earth, and no oath, however solemn, would have 
restrained some of them from the pleasantly dangerous game 
of intrigue ; but there were many others who were glad of 
the British protection and the consequent security of their 
dominions, and who therefore abode honourably by the treaty 
and became loyal fiefs of the empire. 

The great menace to the peace of India being thus averted 
by the destruction of the Maratha power, Hastings was free 
to turn his attention to the administration of the British 
provinces. Legal reform and the establishment of an educa- 
tional system occupied much of his time during his last years 
in India. But he had now exceeded the average length of 
office of a Governor-General ; and he had good reason to 
beheve that the directors of the East India Company did not 
approve of his vigorous poHcy, triumphantly successful 
though it had been. 

He was indeed thanked by his employers for his services, 
and his proffered resignation was refused. But in common 
decency they could not avoid the former tribute ; as regards 
the latter, it is sufficient to say that they began to look out 
for a successor, and that their decision eventually fell on 
George Canning. 

It may be doubted whether the choice was a wise one. 
Canning was a brilliant orator ; but oratory in the House of 
Commons is no qualification for a Governor-General of India. 
His talents, great as they were in his own sphere of parlia- 


mentary life, were by no means necessarily suited to the 
control of an oriental state ; and this Canning himself seems 
to have recognised. The directors were probably influenced 
in their selection by the fact that he had discouraged the 
forward policy of Hastings, and his acceptance of the post 
would therefore have seemed to promise them some years of 
peaceful and profitable commerce, undisturbed by the alarms 
and expenses of punitive expeditions, and the enlargement 
of their already large dominions. But the chances of home 
politics determined Canning to remain in England ; and when 
the Marquis of Hastings sailed from Calcutta, on 1st January 
1823, it was to Lord Amherst that the reins of government 
were offered. 

The new ruler arrived in August of the same year ; and 
he had hardly called his first Council when war again broke 
Amherst, out. This time, however, the conflict was not 
1823. [yi India proper ; Burma and Assam were the 

countries affected, and the sustained military operations 
which ensued were the cause of much surprise and regret to 
Amherst, who had hoped that the campaigns of Hastings had 
secured a long period of peace to India.^ And even when 
the Burmese war was drawing to a close, the effect it had had 
in disturbing the great settlement of India that was made 
by Hastings, forced Amherst to engage in another punitive 
campaign against an old enemy in the middle of the peninsula. 

It is a truism that the least check to a European army in 
Asia at once fosters a whole crop of native intrigue and sedi- 
tion. In the Burmese War, indeed, the British had suffered 
no disaster. But the struggle was unusually lengthy ; and 
to those who wished to believe that the British had suffered 
defeat, it was not difficult to misinterpret the prolonged 
absence of our troops on the Irawadi River. 

Forthwith an extraordinary change came over the attitude 
of our native allies. Every item of news that could by any 
1 For the history of this war, see vol. viii. 


possibility be constraed as a reverse was eagerly seized upon 
and exaggerated. A general rumour spread from court to 
court that we should have to retire from Central India owing 
to the drain on our resources. Metcalfe, a member of the 
Supreme Council of Calcutta, stated that ' the Burmese War 
produced an extraordinary sensation all over India, amount- 
ing to an expectation of our immediate downfall.' 

Nor was the disaffection merely passive. The great and 
growing confederacy of the Sikhs, whose dominions in the 
Punjab now adjoined the British provinces, assumed an over- 
bearing tone. The last of the Pindari and Maratha outlaws 
ventured forth from their obscure hiding-places, scenting in 
the presumed weakness of the dominant power an opportunity 
for renewed plunder. And in the states administered under 
British supervision there was general discontent. 

This latter sentiment was not, indeed, without foundation. 
It is true that our protection had benefited the inhabitants. 
Even the miserable country of Oudh was less miserable than 
before ; for it was reported that a body of irregular horse 
marching through that land in 1824 could find no spot on 
which to encamp without injuring the crops ; while in the 
following year travellers and officers alike called it a perfect 
garden. Everywhere agriculture had improved. But both 
our rule and our protection had brought disadvantages and 
abuses in their train. If there was now more land under 
cultivation, there was more grain produced than before ; and 
the price of grain had naturally fallen as the supply increased. 
Some grumbling ensued thereon ; a worse consequence was 
that the revenue system, which had been specially safeguarded 
to prevent tyranny, was inelastic in its operation, and a 
further unforeseen cause had made it oppressive. 

The assessment was properly calculated on the price of 
grain. But it had been calculated when that price was 
inflated by the presence of a large military force ; as soon 
as the army was withdrawn the price sank : and while there 


was less demand, there was a larger supply. From a double 
reason the price therefore fell ; but the assessment remained 
the same. 

And to these grounds for discontent there was added 
another more potent, because more permanent factor. The 
British had given peace, security, and the beginnings of com- 
parative prosperity to India. But for that very reason, para- 
doxical as it may appear at first sight, there was dissatis- 
faction. A not inconsiderable number of roving marauders 
found their occupation gone ; and the paths of peaceful 
industry were utterly distastefid to them. The native princes 
found their treasury better suppHed ; but in the opinion of 
many this did not compensate for the loss of liberty and the 
dehghts of waging private war against their neighbours. 
And the subjects of those princes, who in truth were as yet 
the least important consideration, forgot, as it is natural to 
forget, the woes of the past in the woes of the present. They 
knew that taxation was oppressive ; they did not remember 
that it had been extortionate. They knew that the price of 
grain had fallen, and that they had suffered because it had 
fallen ; they forgot that previously they had often seen the 
whole of their crops carried off without hope of pa5mient or 
redress. They remembered the few virtues of the older 
system, and forgot its vices ; they saw distinctly the vices 
of the new system, and were oblivious of its virtues. 

Matters came to a crisis when a dispute as to the succes- 
sion of the throne at Bharatpur called for British interven- 
The storm of ^^^^- ^^ ^^^ Amherst hesitated ; but Comber- 
Bharatpur, more, an ofl&cer who had served against Napoleon 
^* * in Spain, undertook to reduce that celebrated 

fortress. It was a dangerous moment for the English. They 
had abeady failed once before Bharatpur ; and their failure 
had not been forgotten by the natives. If they failed again 
they would immediately have to face the probability, indeed, 
almost the certainty, that every subsidiary state from one 


end of India to the other would repudiate its alliance, and 
engage in open rebellion ; and it was known that the neigh- 
bouring Rajput and Maratha princes were secretly encourag- 
ing the usurping Raja of Bharatpur. 

The fortress was a formidable one, perhaps the most formid- 
able of any in India. Its defences covered five miles ; it was 
protected by thick and lofty walls of dried clay which rose 
from the edge of a broad and deep ditch ; it was flanked by 
thirty-five tower-bastions, and strengthened by the outworks 
of nine gateways. High above the walls towered the bastions 
of the citadel, commanding the town of Bharatpur, the outer 
ramparts, and the surrounding plain ; and the citadel itself 
was defended by a ditch fifty yards broad, fifty-nine feet deep, 
and filled with water, 

A regular siege was impossible ; Bharatpur could only be 
captured by storm. For two whole months it was bombarded 
without tangible results ; but at length the walls began to 
crumble beneath the heavy fire of the British guns. Even 
then they seemed hardly less steep and inaccessible than before. 
But meanwhile the trenches of the attacking army had been 
advanced ; several mines had been sprung ; and the explosion 
of an enormous charge of ten thousand pounds of gunpowder 
in the chief mine, on 18th January 1826, shook the citadel to 
its foundation and effected a practicable breach. 

The British immediately stormed the place. They were 
opposed at the point of the bayonet, and the Raja's troops 
fought with magnificent bravery, disputing every foot of 
the advance. If the casualty hst is correct, it conveys an 
idea of their devotion ; for no fewer than 8000 of the enemy 
were killed and 6000 wounded. The British loss was 600. 

On the following day the legitimate Raja of Bharatpur was 
restored to the throne of his ancestors ; and the fortress was 
dismantled. Its capture at once put an end to the incipient 
conspiracies of which the native courts had been full ; for 
the fall of Bharatpur made it evident to the meanest intelli- 


gence that the Burmese War had not weakened the power of 
the British in India. 

The moral effect was deep and lasting. Now at length pro- 
found peace reigned throughout India ; nor could any cloud 
Peace and of future war be discerned on the clear horizon. 
Reform. pgr twelve years the hand of the conqueror was 
utterly stayed, while the conquered abode in subjection ; the 
age of pacific reform, for which every Anglo-Indian statesman 
had longed, but hitherto longed in vain, had come. 

And with the coming of that age a new era opened out for 
British India ; an era which, though chequered by many 
great and terrible wars, though marked by a large extension 
of the already large territories of England in the East, was 
essentially one of peaceful development and ordered change. 

The first period of British rule in India, which was a suc- 
cession of almost unbroken conquests, was practically at an 
end when the victories of Hastings and Amherst were com- 
pleted by the storm of Bharatpur. 

The second period, which began with the administration 
of Bentinck in 1828, was not the less glorious or daring because 
the British now attempted to substitute moral for military 
conquest, because they endeavoured to impose the philo- 
sophic ideas, the culture, and the principles of modern Europe 
on the ancient and ah en civihsations of India, and thus to 
transplant the restless soul of the West into the tranquil 
body of the East. 

The third period began when the first unexpected results 
of that courageous experiment were visible in the early years 
of the twentieth century. 

Book VIII 




While Britain was conquering an empire in India, she was 
losing another empire in America. While she was subdu- 
ing an alien race in the Orient, her own children The Revolt 
were repudiating her dominion in the Occident ; America 
and at the very moment when soldiers and states- 1776. 
men were advancing her flag in the tropics of Asia, the same 
flag was being torn down and trampled underfoot by the 
descendants of Englishmen on the other side of the world 
in the Imperial Civil War. But the western colonies had 
hardly been lost when the inexhaustible vitality of Britain 
was shown in the acquisition of fresh territories for the settle- 
ment of her people in Australia and South Africa ; and the 
nation which was believed to be ruined by the disasters of the 
American War rose to a greater height than ever during 
the terrific contest with Napoleon in every quarter of the 

That contest was waged for the mastery of Europe and the 
outer world ; and it ended, as the previous contest of the 
Seven Years' War had ended, in the triumph of The Revoiu- 
Britain as the leading maritime and colonising tionaryAge. 
power of the earth. The age during which this struggle took 



place was one in which commerce increased enormously, 
under the natural stimulus of mechanical inventions and 
improvements ; even the wars produced their efiect, 
as they forced up both prices and production. Science and 
discovery likewise made notable advances ; but the real 
characteristic which distinguished this period from its pre- 
decessors in history was the revolutionary spirit that stamped 
its mark on every phase of life. Everywhere throughout 
the West men destroyed and reconstructed their ideas and 
their political theories with equal zeal ; everywhere they 
threw ofi the allegiance which their fathers had owed to 
governments that no longer satisfied their views ; authority 
was disregarded in the pursuit of freedom, and the new 
doctrine of the Eights of Man displaced the old doctrine 
of the Divine Right of Kings. 

The American colonies of Britain led the way of revolu- 
tion, in a rebellion against the tyranny of a government whose 
most arbitrary acts would never have provoked a murmur 
in any other country except England. The monarchs of 
France and Spain, unwilhng to lose the opportunity of striking 
a blow against their old enemy Britain, assisted the Americans 
to obtain poUtical independence ; and within a few years 
the lesson of the American revolution had recoiled unex- 
pectedly on their own heads. The King of France was 
deposed and executed during a revolution which surpassed 
the American rebelhon in as great a degree as the power and 
population of France surpassed the power and population 
of British America. And the King of Spain, who had en- 
couraged the colonies of another nation to rebel, saw his own 
colonies in South America throw ofi their allegiance to Spain 
one by one, in pursuit of the same independent and republican 
ideal that had animated the citizens of Boston and 

The revolt of British America split an empire in twain and 
founded a new nation on the ruins of a civil war. The revolt 


of Latin America likewise split an empire ; but the Spanish 
colonies were possessed of none of the genius for political 
organisation which distinguished the founders of the northern 
repubhc, and the divided states of Spanish South America 
remain an unhappy example of the fate that would have 
overtaken the United States without the binding mortar 
of a Federal Constitution whose every word was respected 
by men to whom constitutional government was almost a 

The revolutionary impulse of France owed something to 
the teaching of English poHtical philosophers, and some- 
thing also to the example of the English rebels in America. 
But neither England nor America had ever known the evils to 
which France had been subject ; and neither England nor 
America followed the path of revolt with such zealous fervour 
of destruction and reconstruction as the French. 

The autocratic centralising poUcy that was introduced in 
France under Louis xi. had been rudely interrupted by the 
Renascence and the Reformation ; but it was The French 
continued by Richeheu and carried to its logical Revolution, 
conclusion by Mazarin and Louis xiv. For a time it seemed 
supremely successful, as France rose to the position of the 
leading mihtary power in Europe, and became in some sense 
the leading power of the outer world as well. In England, 
on the contrary, a political freedom had been attained that 
was always unknown in France ; the great civil struggles 
between the Stuarts and the nobihty and people reduced 
the weight of the British Crown, while the monarchs of 
France were concentrating the whole rule of their kingdom 
in their own hands. And the cold, hard, unaesthetic puri- 
tanism that now counted for much in the poHtical and social 
hfe of England, and at times even turned the scales in the 
decision of pubhc afiairs, had no part nor lot in the growth 
of the French intellect. The puritan of England was self- 
assertive in the presence of an earthly autocrat, where the 


Frenchman as yet was mute ; he was self-repressive before 
the authority of heavenly commands, where the Frenchman 
was reaching forward to throw ofE reverence to Bible, Church, 
and religion altogether. 

But when Louis xiv, died in 1715 a gradual change came 
ovBr the haughty nation that had despised its island neigh- 
bours across the Channel. The great monarch left an im- 
poverished kingdom and a hungry peasantry as a monument of 
his fifty years' reign. The name of France, which had been 
revered throughout Europe as that of the leader of civilisa- 
tion and culture, the centre of the arts, the seat of elegance, 
the chosen home of the muses, was indeed still so revered ; 
but it was coupled with denunciations of the cruelty and 
faithlessness that had desolated the Palatinate, seized Strass- 
burg in a time of profound peace, sown discord among the 
princes of the German Empire, unblushingly broken the most 
solemn treaties, revoked the edicts of rehgious toleration, 
and driven forth the Huguenots to starve or beg in foreign 

It was at such a time that some young Frenchmen came 
to England, and quickly drank in the spirit of liberty and 
free inquiry that was instinct in the nation. Despite the 
late struggle with the Stuarts, the country was prosperous. 
Despite the laws against the Nonconformists, toleration in 
religious matters was general. The press was seldom shackled. 
The most daring treatise on pohtics, on theology, on philosophy, 
might be published without fear. In France an unfortunate 
author was thrown into the Bastille, and his work seized as 
treasonable or heretical if it displeased the officials of the 
State or Church ; in England the worst punishment that could 
befall the most wretched scribbler was to starve in Grub 
Street, or to achieve immortahty in the biting couplets of the 
Dunciad. Corrupt and factious as was the public life of the 
age, it was at least better than the deathlike silence that 
reigned across the Channel ; and the English constitutional 


system moved the admiration of every French writer from 
Voltaire and Montesquieu to Benjamin Constant. 

The new philosophers of France quickly assimilated the 
works of Bacon, Hobbes, Newton, and Locke, and inter- 
preted them to their countrymen, and thence to the world 
at large. But at first even the bolder thinkers only attacked 
the Church in France. The monarchy remained untouched. 
Opinion, therefore, to that extent became free. Philo- 
sophical and scientific discussions were soon the fashion in 
Paris. Every aristocrat had a smile for the man of letters ; 
every great lady's drawing-room was filled with a coterie of 
brilhant writers, this with his sarcasm on the theologians, 
that with his epigram on the Pope. The highborn laughed 
and applauded ; their own order was not yet menaced. 

But from the abuse of power by the priests to the abuse of 
power by the patricians was but a step. The first genera- 
tion that struck at the clergy was succeeded by a second 
that struck at the crown ; and the hour was favourable to 
an attack on the monarchy. France had been humbled at 
home and abroad. Her debts, her poverty, and her ambition 
had increased. The rule which Louis xiv. had always exercised 
with a certain magnificence was resigned by his grandson to a 
favourite mistress. A vague but deep discontent sprang up 
among the common people. They had long borne, with a 
patience not at all in accordance with our engrained ideas 
of the Galhc character, extortion, exaction, and oppression. 
Their scanty earnings had been heavily taxed by the Bang, 
the nobles, and the priests. Their sons had been sent to 
fight in Flanders, in Germany, in Spain, in America. At 
the least sign of a popular movement the leaders were flung 
into prison. Under the insidious principle of autocratic 
centralisation — a centralisation at once mean and extra- 
vagant, rotten and splendid — a brave high-spirited nation 
was being drained of its vitality, and sapped of its strength. 

But revolt came before it was too late. Travellers and 

VOL. II. o 


students alike had for many years noticed the tendency to 
rise against oppression. Chesterfield wrote in 1753 : ' All 
the symptoms I have ever met with in history previous to 
great changes and revolutions in government now exist, and 
daily increase in France.' Gibbon elucidated a point of 
Roman history from the disturbances he saw around him. 
What was visible to the stranger within the gates should not 
have been hidden from the French Government. But that 
Government was moribund. It could neither go honestly 
forward on the road of conciliation, nor courageously back- 
ward to the time-honoured repression. Like the lukewarm 
church cursed by the prophet of the Apocalypse, it was neither 
hot nor cold ; and its fate was the same. 

Unfortunately the wilder and more terrifying symptoms 
that not only the nineteenth century but our own times have 
known too well found also their chief inspiration, if not alto- 
gether their origin, in the French Revolution. While the 
fair hopes of freedom dawned in the movement that took 
for its motto Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity ; while the 
generous sentiment of friendship with other nations broke out 
in the declaration that ' all peoples are our alhes ' ; the baser 
sort saw their opportunity in the carnage, the terror, the con- 
fiscation. Organised anarchy raised her poisonous head. If 
the true reformers founded their resistance on the wishes of 
the people, the scum realised their profit in the rule of the mob. 
The vengeance that wreaks itself on any victim, disdaining 
justice and despising mercy, set its hideous example in the 
fanaticism of those who brought about the Reign of Terror ; 
and the terror did not cease until it had sent over two thousand 
victims to the guillotine. But with the excesses of that dread 
tribunal, which slaughtered innocent victims at the rate of 
fifty or a hundred in a day by a process of judicial murder, 
France purged itself of the Revolution. It was the blood- 
thirstiness of men like Robespierre and Fouquier-Tinville 
that hurried on the reaction ; but the real origin of the 


Terrorists must be sought in the previous century of 

The spirit of revolt that overturned the traditions of cen- 
turies in France was also manifesting itself in Britain, but 
in a far more orderly manner. The constitution its Effect 
was not abohshed ; the throne was strong enough °^ Britain, 
to survive the temporary insanity of its occupant ; the Church 
passed unmenaced through a period of inaction. But many 
of the ancient shibboleths were cast away, as the rising 
industriahsm of the time forced the community into fresh 
methods of hfe ; and if the problems that were thus solved 
were succeeded immediately by others as grave, there was at 
least no unwilhngness to tackle them as soon as they were 

In hterature the new school that was inspired by the French 
Revolution, which later gave birth to the Lakists, was energetic 
in its desire to shake off the fetters of rule and precedent that 
had bound the writers of the early eighteenth century. But 
the impulse lay in the time, and not in the men alone ; for 
while Coleridge, Wordsworth, and Shelley were fired by the 
doctrines of freedom, Cowper in his quiet retreat at Olney had 
already felt the need before them ; and Byron, disdainful as 
he always professed himself of those who had cast off the 
authority of Pope, was perhaps the most profoundly affected 
by, and the most brilliant member of, the new school. 

In abstract thought, the scientific spirit which is the 
true basis of rationalism, and which, although somewhat 
strangely changed during the process, had itself furnished 
the motive power from which the whole movement of 
revolt was originally generated, was influenced in turn as the 
second renascence reacted on it and brought it new force. 
The real thinkers of the age were not the professed authors 
but the philosophers, using the word in its widest sense. 
Jortin and Warburton had already traversed the usually 
barren fields of controversy with success, and examined with 


healthy scepticism the legends and miracles of the mediaeval 
chm:ch. Gibbon pushed their conclusions further, and con- 
trived by bitter sneer and unfair innuendo to poison the 
womid he inflicted on the faithful. Hume carried the battle 
directly into the citadel of religion with his masterly essays 
against miracles ; while Paine, an unworthy camp-follower, 
travestied the higher arguments of the revolutionary school 
in books and pamphlets more fitted for the low taste of the 
general pubHc. 

But theology was receding more and more into the back- 
ground, as the way of thought that had been inaugurated 
by Bacon began to be commonly accepted. The inductive 
school, which admitted nothing save what rested on the firm 
foundation of proven fact, was triumphant in England ; and 
its work was brilliantly seconded by the deductive or theoretic 
school in Scotland. The two systems were the complement 
of each other : in the eyes of the practical English, there were 
few facts in the universe that did not need investigation, and 
their cause to be proved ; in the eyes of the metaphysical 
Scots, few of those theories that had hitherto been accepted 
without hesitation by mankind were worthy of credence before 
full inquiry. And if there was at the time no man whose 
life marked a new epoch in scientific achievement, it is be- 
cause every one who was engaged in such work was better 
pleased to advance a few steps securely in the road of know- 
ledge, than to construct a vast and splendid edifice, in which 
perhaps his followers would find the foundation lacking. . . . 

The reforming movement quickly made itself felt in politics 
and in the social life of the community. There were many 
attempts to purify and raise the tone of both the one and the 
other. While the synthetic movement continued which 
was still forcing small isolated communities to amalgamate 
into larger homogeneous bodies, there was evolved a new 
sense of responsibility in government, hitherto conspicuously 
absent, and a spirit, closely allied to the latter if not at 


times absolutely identical, which we may call for want of a 
better name, the New Humanity. 

The poHtical hfe of the earUer eighteenth century had been 
corrupt and factious to a degree. National interests were 
lost sight of when those of party came in the way ; and party 
influences claimed every man of mark throughout the kingdom. 
It was the overpowering genius of the elder Pitt, here as in so 
many other directions, that showed the way to improvement. 
His Coahtion Government broke down a few of the party 
barriers ; and if matters again reverted to their former state, 
it was at any rate shown that a great national crisis and a 
great national leader could temporarily override all opposition. 

Parliament, too, had degenerated into a mere body of place- 
men, elected by a small caucus from districts that had fre- 
quently become of Httle account, owing to the migration of 
population : the House of Commons was thoroughly unrepre- 
sentative, and its members voted obediently for the wire- 
puller who could give the highest bribe. It should have been 
the pulse of the people : it was, in fact, out of sympathy with 
their feelings, and selfishly bent on gaining its own ends. 
Again it was Pitt who saw the need of reform in the electoral 
system. He sketched out a project which should again bring 
ParHament into touch with national hfe ; and although 
his schemes miscarried owing to the force of outside 
events, and the combined opposition of every vested interest, 
and every simple reactionary or mere sentimental admirer of 
the past, the seed he had let faU was not thrown away. It 
germinated and grew in strength, resulting eventually in the 
Reform Bill of 1832, and the further extensions of the fran- 
chise which have taken place since then. Burke, too, by his 
measure cutting down the pubHc pension Hst, by reducing the 
secret service money, and by checking financial extravagance 
in the administration, not only reduced the burden of taxa- 
tion, but lessened the opportunities for pohtical corruption — a 
more important point. 


The next generation went further still. The younger Pitt 
brought to an end the anomalous and unjust minority Parlia- 
ment that had sat at Dubhn, and by the act of 1801 Ireland 
was joined to Great Britain : it was his wish, also, to sweep 
away the laws against those who did not profess the tenets of 
the Church of England. In this he was unsuccessful, since the 
thought was too advanced for the age ; but although defeated 
for the moment, the idea was never abandoned, and another 
few years saw the abohtion of all but a few of the rehgious tests 
as a quaHfication for pubhc Hfe. 

These reforms at home have little to do with the British 
colonies, save in so far as any improvement at the heart of the 
Imperial empire must of necessity circulate after a time 
Responsi- through each of the other members ; but of vital 
^ ^ ^' importance to the dependencies was the move- 

ment that brought out a sense of responsibility for the 
possessions overseas, a movement that grew later into a new 
feehng of brotherhood with those inhabiting them. 

There could, indeed, be Httle enthusiasm about the colonies 
for many years after the Imperial Civil War. The old EngHsh 
settlements across the Atlantic had revolted. Canada was 
looked upon as a half-frozen province of indefinite extent, 
that had been saved from the wreck of the rebeUion by a 
curious freak of fate. AustraHa was beheved to be a dismal 
and half-desert island, which providence had judiciously 
placed on the other side of the world in order that British 
criminals, when transported thither, should find no possible 
means of returning. Cape Colony was considered a valueless 

But the position with regard to India was very different. 
The astounding conquests of a few years had left the British 
practically masters of the whole country. Every feeling of 
curiosity had been roused by the reports of its wealth and 
magnificence ; every noble sentiment had been roused by the 
helpless condition of its inhabitants, who were too often a 


prey to the rapacity of the East India Company and its 
officials ; every instinct of justice had been roused by the 
feeHng that a commercial corporation, whose first thought 
must necessarily be its own profit and the earning of divi- 
dends for its own stockholders, ought not to be finally answer- 
able for the government, as well as the trade, of the huge 
possession that had unexpectedly fallen into its hands. 

There are few finer passages in our history than the gradual 
awakening to a reahsation of the responsibility that seemed 
to be placed upon the Enghsh people by God Himself as the 
duty of the strong towards the weak, the healthy towards the 
sick ; a responsibihty that was soon seen to apply equally to 
the care of the other alien peoples within the empire, to the 
wretched African slave of the West Indies, to the aboriginal 
American whom our advance in Canada drove ever further 
westwards, to the native Austrahan who dies so quickly 
before the white man, to the native South African whose 
increase is quicker than our own. 

It is this feehng which we call the New Humanity. Its 
workings were to be seen also in England, in attempts to 
elevate the condition of the lowest classes, by giving the 
children some instruction in the Sunday or Ragged Schools 
then recently founded ; in an improvement some years later 
of the legal system, partly by abolishing the old prisons with 
their filthy arrangements and herding together of aU degrees 
of criminals, partly by reduction of some of those barbarously 
severe sentences which disgraced the English law ; partly 
in the eventual introduction of new and still tentative methods 
of pimishment devised to do away with the old penal arrange- 
ments which neither reformed nor deterred.^ 

^ Another aspect of the increasing humanitarian sentiment of the age 
is too often passed over in silence ; I refer to its care for the lower animals, 
and to the attempts that were now made to suppress cruelty in sport and 
in the treatment of beasts of burden. In the year 1822, 'The first law 
ever enacted in any country for the interest of the brute creation' — I 
quote Sir Herbert Maxwell — was passed through Parliament by Richard 
Martin, the member for Galway, who was the leading spirit in the 


It was fitting that the first voice of the New Humanity 
should be that of the melancholy recluse, whose clouded, 
The Poet of ^^^iliappy existence, albeit passed amid the peace- 
the New ful lanes and gardens of Bedfordshire, made him 
Humanity, gyjj^pathise with the lot of the helpless and 
oppressed in every quarter of the globe. Years before Burke 
thundered against Warren Hastings in Westminster Hall, 
years before Wilberforce introduced his proposals for the 
emancipation of the slaves, the poet Cowper, far apart from 
the strife and the turmoil in which men of iron were ruthlessly 
building up the great empire overseas, had condemned in 
his verse the excesses of those victors who filled India with 
terror, and the cruelties of those masters who saw in the 
African negro merely a cheap and continuously reproductive 
source of labour : — 

' Hast thou, though suckled at fair freedom's breast, 
Exported slavery to the conquered East ? 
Pulled down the tyrants India served with dread, 
And raised thyself, a greater, in their stead 1 
Gone thither armed and hungry, returned full. 
Fed from the richest veins of the Mogul, 
A despot big with power obtained by wealth, 
And that obtained by rapine and by stealth 1 

formation of the beneficent Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty 
to Animals. The name of this excellent man deserves to be better 
remembered than it is. 

It is significant of the tendency of public opinion that Coleridge's lines 
on the subject are dated in the year 1797 : — 

'He prayeth well, who loveth well 

Both man and bird and beast. 

He prayeth best, who loveth best 

All things both great and small ; 

For the dear God who loveth us, 

He made and loveth all.' 
I may be mistaken ; but I have always thought that the growth of this 
sentiment in the Victorian age is a more conclusive proof of the real 
progress of civilisation than many of its vaunted achievements in utili- 
tarian invention. And the English nation, which is sometimes believed 
by envious foreigners to count wife-beating among its cheaper and more 
popular domestic amusements, may perhaps take a little credit to itself 
for the lead it has given the world in the suppression of wanton cruelty 
to animals. 


With Asiatic vices stored thy mind, 

But left their virtues and thine own behind ; 

And having trucked thy soul, brought home the fee, 

To tempt the poor to sell himself to thee 1 ' 

In such lofty tones of reproach, did he repudiate the mis- 
deeds of the East India Company and its agents. Equally 
emphatic was he as regards slavery : — 

' I would not have a slave to till my ground. 
To carry me, to fan me while I sleep. 
And tremble when I wake, for all the wealth, 
That sinews bought and sold have ever earned. . . . 
We have no slaves at home. — Why then abroad ? . . . 
Slaves cannot breathe in England ; if their lungs 
Receive our air, that moment they are free. 
They touch our country, and their shackles fall. 

. . . Spread it then. 
And let it circulate through every vein 
Of all your empire ; that where Britain's power 
Is felt, mankind may feel her mercy, too.' 

Throughout all his work the same voice of humanity 
rises ; whether regretting the tyranny of the strong over the 
weak, or protesting against the ' detested sport that owes 
its pleasure to another's pain.' At times he exaggerates, 
as when he merely echoes the vulgar clamour which pictured 
Clive with ' overgorged and bloated purse,' or believes that 
British extortion in the East had made ' our arch of empire 
a mutilated structure soon to fall ' ; or again, in saying that, 
' doing good, disinterested good, is not our trade ' ; but in 
spite of all the excesses and the abuses he condemns, he still 
has faith in his country, and 'her magnificent and awful cause.' 

Cowper was the perfect type and symbol of the New 
Humanity, alike in its excellences and its defects. A text 
might be found in his poems for all the causes it 
championed in its ea iier days. That stern moral and Defects 
indignation, that deiire to redress abuses and to °^ ^^® ^f^ 
wipe out foul stains, whatever and wherever they 
may be, which has given the New Humanity its most splendid 


victories, were possessed in no small measuie by the man 
who was too timorous to read aloud in public. That fellow- 
feeling with the downtrodden, that sympathy with the 
afflicted and the poor, that charity for the sufiering, which 
has made the New Humanity a power of such incalculable 
good to England and the world, were all possessed by the man 
who petted a hare for years and wrote an elegy on its death. 

But the spirit of exaggeration which we have noticed in 
Cowper was unfortunately also destined to be typical of the New 
Humanity. Relying on the heart at least as much as on the 
head, to it belonged all the defects that spring from exuberant 
but ill-balanced sympathy. If any cause it attacked was bad, 
therefore all those connected, however remotely, with that 
cause, and however much above reproach their character 
might be in other respects, were also bad. To a passion 
for doing good, it united a passion for vihf5ang its opponents. 
Ever ready to check evil, it saw evil everywhere. It magnified 
small abuses and the petty folHes of mankind into mountains, 
and cried to have them removed. It attacked with intemperate 
vehemence ; and although its victories were not counted to 
England for righteousness, its fooKshness was readily and 
not unjustly reckoned abroad as a national characteristic. 
That more or less unconscious hypocrisy, which has fre- 
quently made us a laughing-stock among other nations, and 
which sprang originally from puritanism, drew fresh strength 
from the New Humanity, The ineffable outpourings of 
pseudo-progressives and self-styled reformers ; the dogmatic 
intemperance of temperance societies ; the petty obsessions 
of the minor religious sects ; the cherished inanities of the 
over-righteous everywhere : all ahke are manifestations of 
the New Humanity run to seed.^ 

These are the smaller evils ; others greater have come 

^ The scepticism which Mr. Samuel Weller, Senior, expressed regard- 
ing the precise vahie to the negroes of flannel waistcoats and moral 
pocket handkerchiefs, might be extended to a number of otlier more or 
less philanthropic enterprises without doing harm. 


from the very warmth of that feehng for the less advanced 
races which has given the cause itself its highest triumphs. 
While sympathising nobly with those who were oppressed 
by civihsed man ; while assuming, without hope of reward, 
and indeed with great prospect of misconstruction being 
put on their aims, the task of protecting the undeveloped 
man against the developed : there was too much of a tendency 
to forget that an irremovable chasm of thousands of years 
separated the two. The less informed exponents of the New 
Humanity indulged ghbly in cheap vapourings about the 
equahty and the relationship of aU mankind, and they did 
considerable harm by their failure to perceive that the problem 
raised altogether deeper issues than could be covered by the 
mere miproved assertion. 

Frequently it was ignorance, occasionally lack of common 
sense, and at times a curious anti-national bias, that caused 
them to err. If it was a matter of Indian government they 
were considering, they saw no distinction between the demon- 
worshipping Dravidian, the high-caste Hindu, and the war- 
like Sikh ; aU were ahke ' fellow-men,' and all should have a 
vote ; if they were not immediately fitted for it, they must 
be educated up to it. It was not reahsed that such educa- 
tion was a matter not of generations, but of centuries ; and it 
was not foreseen that the sole outcome of a parhament com- 
posed of such various groups, none of whom had previously 
shown the faintest desire for representative institutions, 
would be general anarchy. 

The same thing occurred in South Africa. Some of those 
who were loudest in their desire to ' elevate our negro 
brethren,' included mider that term as equals the brave 
Zulu and the stunted Hottentot, the Kafir and the Matabele ; 
none of whom in fact are negroes at all, and each of whom 
difier from each other at least as much as the Saxon from the 
Slav. That did not matter to the enthusiast ; they were 
freed from slavery ; they must have the franchise. The 



same quack medicine was expected to cure them all of a 
disease of which none were conscious. 

These, and other excrescences of the New Humanity, have 
done it harm in the eyes of moderate and unprejudiced men. 
Yet it would be absurdly unjust to set off the occasional 
folhes of a school of thought against the solid services it has 
rendered. The New Humanity, in fact, runs through all our 
recent history as a purifying, elevating influence. Had it 
not been for its working, we should indeed have avoided 
some mistakes in general polity ; but we should never have 
created the Indian imperial system, and we should never 
have abolished slavery. The two achievements, the former 
practical and constructive, the latter idealist and rightly 
destructive, were more than sufficient to outweigh the errors 
of a century of faddists. 

For the first time since her connection with Asia, England 
as a whole began to take an interest in Indian affairs, when 
Reform in the news of CHve's and Hastings' victories reached 
India. home. Commerce had brought the East nearer 

to England.^ In a higher sense, too, the connection between 

^ The course of trade by way of the Cape is referred to in Tristram 
Shandy, and it is suggested that Indian doctrines, which began to be 
discussed in Europe at this period, also came by the same route. An 
allusion to the East was no longer pedantic in a novel. Fielding speaks 
of ' the Bannians in India, who dedicate their whole lives to the preserva- 
tion and protection of certain animals,' and compares them sarcastically 
with English game-preservers. Miss Burney makes her Captain vow to 
Evelina that he would sooner go into the Black Hole of Calcutta than 
accompany a party to Ranelagh. The ' Club ' often debated the affairs 
of Asia ; and Johnson, who could see nothing but savages and scoundrels 
in America, recovered his sanity when other parts of the world were 
mentioned. An anecdote of fortune hunters in the East Indies was told 
among them with immense gusto in 1776 ; the custom of going there to 
make wealth was alluded to again in 1778, and was no doubt a frequent 
subject of jest. Johnson, as became one of the old Tories, defended the 
system of caste ; he had once met Warren Hastings, and wrote two 
letters to him ; a discussion on his policy is preserved in Boswell's Life. 
No play of the period was complete without the figure of the wicked 
Englishman who extorted untold wealth from trembling natives, and 
returned home to be tortured by a bad conscience and an equally bad 
liver for the rest of his days. 


Orient and Occident appealed to idealists such as Burke, who 
saw ' one of the races of the North-West cast into the heart 
of Asia new manners, new doctrines, new institutions/ 

But as the political power of the Bast India Company 
increased, it became evident to the deeper thinkers of the 
age, that a body of commercial men could not be permitted 
to continue the government of subject nations under the same 
conditions that had been sufficient when they were solely a 
trading corporation. If the great successes won by CUve 
and Hastings filled people with pride, the means by which 
they had been won were condemned. 

In the splendid simile of Burke, the British Parliament 
claimed ' an imperial character in which as from the throne 
of heaven she superintends all the several inferior legislatures, 
and guides and controls them all, without annihilating any.' 
As regards America, the Stamp Act and the Imperial Civil 
War showed how much his boast was worth. If the orator's 
magnificent phrase were not ever to remain unmeaning rhetoric, 
the opportunity to fulfil it came when India passed into English 

That opportunity was not neglected ; but the reasons which 
induced Parliament to intervene in the government of India 
were typical of the spirit that animated the New Humanity. 
The factions and dissensions among the directors of the East 
India Company were of little importance to any one save the 
shareholders ; and the latter were quite capable of looking 
after themselves. Neither was it the fact that the Company 
required a loan from the State which brought about the change, 
although that of itself gave Parliament the right to a voice 
in Indian affairs. It was the knowledge that much of the 
wealth brought home had neither been made in trade, nor 
fairly derived from revenue, that first roused general dis- 
approval ; and when part of the wretched story of rapacity 
leaked out, and to it was added the appaUing accounts of the 
Bengal famine, together with the suspicion that the Com- 


pany's servants not only did nothing to check it, but actually 
made money out of the miseries of those who had become 
their subjects : the combined ejffect of these abuses forced 
ParHament to take part in the government of India. 

The horrible accounts that reached England were in many 
cases overdrawn, and no justification was discovered for the 
belief that the Company had profited by the famine : but the 
New Humanity, with that tendency to exaggeration which 
we have remarked, was not too careful in the instances of 
abuse it quoted. But a storm of indignation was aroused 
by facts which could not be denied ; and measures were 
quickly taken to relieve the Company of part of that responsi- 
bihty of which it had shown itself unworthy, and which it 
was indeed impossible for it to exercise with impartiality and 
due regard both for its own interests and those of the natives 
of India. 

Not until after the Mutiny of 1857 did England take over 
the entire direction of Indian government ; but from the first 
Regulating Act of 1773 it was recognised as a principle that 
the ultimate responsibihty for the great dependency lay 
with the nation, and not with the Company. 

Had it not been so, it may safely be said that we should not 
have possessed India to-day. The strength of the Company 
imsparingly exercised, the tyranny of the West misparingly 
imposed on the East, might have preserved it for a few years. 
Men hke Clive and Hastings might have found successors, 
brilliant, unscrupulous, and daring as they. But had the 
East India Company been allowed to continue as an oriental 
autocrat, no Bentinck would have adorned the splendid list 
of Governors-General ; no Canning would have balanced with 
even justice the scales between East and West after the great 
outbreak of 1857 ; none of that broad policy of social and 
industrial improvement throughout India, in which are 
blended with careful hand the complex, contrasted civihsa- 
tions of Orient and Occident, would have been inaugurated: 


for no private trading company could or would have under- 
taken it. 

Sooner or later, the English East Lidia Company must have 
been driven from India : and the history of our connection 
with Asia, instead of being a source of legitimate pride to 
every Englishman, would have been a shame, a reproach, 
and a stain ; for it would have told of opportunities missed 
such as have presented themselves to few other nations, of a 
sordid incapacity to rise above the level of business, to grasp 
anything but the immediate profits of trade ; it would have 
shown that, though possessed of the strength of arm to conquer, 
we had not the strength of character to rule ; and the tears 
of the ruined provinces of the East, mingled with the curses 
of our own revolted colonies in the West, would have been a 
sign and a warning for ever that the terrible but just vengeance 
of God and of man had at length overwhelmed those who, 
being free themselves, could yet rivet the chains of slavery 
on others, and dare to order their goings on the earth with 
no thought save for the amount of profit they could extort 
from the forced labour of nations weaker than their own. 

From such a peril the New Humanity saved us, as it awak- 
ened a sense of responsibiHty for the welfare of those who had 
been brought under our rule. That magnificent ideal of empire 
was gradually evolved, which postulates that every citizen 
stands free among his fellows, and equal before the law, 
without distinction of race or creed, of wealth or title ; and 
it is as a living symbol of that ideal that the British Empire 
exists to-day. It is not, indeed, yet fully reahsed in practice. 
But in the first half of the eighteenth century it was not 
realised at all ; we have already seen in a previous chapter 
that England was unconscious of being a world-power, at 
the very time when her victories had made her the leader of 
the outer world. Slowly with the disaster that overtook 
them in the West our people reahsed their responsibihties ; 
and from that time they have never turned back, even though 


they have occasionally groaned under the burden, even though 
there have been days when it has seemed too heavy to be borne. 

About the same time that the responsibiUty of England for 
the government of India was brought home to her, the full 
Slave Eman- iniquity of the tra£5c in African slaves was revealed 
cipation. ^^q ^ few men, who, to their honour and our own, 
would not rest until negro emancipation was an accompHshed 

The chief author of the agitation for abolishing slavery was 
William Wilberforce. Others had expressed their opinion as 
wiiberforce *° ^^^ ^^^ wrought by the traffic in slaves before 
and the him, and, indeed, he never claimed to be the first 
Evangelicals. ^^ ^^^ Abolitionists. We have seen that Cowper 
protested in verse against the wrong, and Burke was con- 
vinced as early as 1780. But Wilberforce was undoubtedly 
the real working head of the cause, and his life sums up in 
essentials the whole philanthropic movement of the time. 
From his pubHshed writings it is evident how entirely that 
movement originated in religious conviction, and was the 
work of the celebrated EvangeHcal school of which he was a 
leading member. 

That school it is easy enough to criticise in a depreciatory 
fashion. Many of its leading spirits were prosy and pompous, 
and overgiven to congratulating the Almighty that he had 
created them so good, after the manner amusingly satirised 
by Thackeray. They were narrow and dogmatic, inheriting 
in this much of the old puritan tradition. They were afraid 
of the lighter side of fife, fearing the influence of the devil 
in the most innocent diversions. Wilberforce himself was 
no exception, as his correspondence shows. He abominated 
' the playhouse ' as ' directly contrary to the laws of God ' ; 
he considered concerts and balls as ' vanities ' ; he gave up 
singing as a dangerous accomplishment. Few examples 

^ For a full account of the abolition of the slave trade and the emanci- 
pation of the slaves, see the fourth volume of this work. 


could show better the completeness with which the Evangeli- 
cals were imbued with the unsesthetic tastes of the puritans. 
He held to the full those strict views as to the observance of 
Sunday which have done so much to make the day of rest a 
day of listless idleness, or even worse, in Britain : he was 
horrified by the easier CathoUc doctrine that recreation 
might be indulged in after the morning devotions were con- 
cluded. He even reproached himself that he was ' not half 
strict enough,' when one of his friends doubted. The most 
trivial incident of life he turned to some moral purpose, and 
his intimate correspondence was full of precepts. ' Many 
would call this a sermon rather than a letter,' he once wrote : 
and the remark was true of almost all his epistles. 

With the narrowness of puritanism, the Evangelical had 
also the unctuous phraseology of the Methodist. Such 
remarks as ' piety is a lovely spectacle in youth ' were frequent 
among them : the whole world was summed up in hke fashion. 
Even Bowdler, self-appointed cleanser of the Augean stables 
of English hterature, was ' very pleasing and pious ' ; the man 
whose expurgations of Shakespeare now savour both of 
absurdity and artistic sacrilege was a shining hght among 
the earlier Evangelicals. 

The school hated Cathohcism with undying hate. The most 
deliberately offensive epithets were chosen to describe the 
oldest form of Christianity. At their headquarters in Clap- 
ham the air was thick with denunciations of the ' scarlet 
woman ' ; the Pope was identified with anti-Christ, until 
the rising star of Napoleon caused a heresy among the com- 
mentators, by making it possible for a parallel to be drawn 
between the French Emperor and the awful scourge of the 
Apocalypse. Those who consider that Thackeray exagger- 
ated, when he drew Mrs. Newcome's anger at young Tom's 
desire to marry a ' papist,' have only to turn to Wilberforce's 
correspondence to see that the novehst has, if anything, 
undercoloured the picture. Although aware that Catholi- 

VOL. II. j> 


cism was the established creed of Haiti, the apostle of emanci- 
pation would not recognise it even as a corrupt form of his 
own rehgion, for he desired to seize ' the inconceivably 
important opportunity of sowing Christianity ' there. This 
he proceeded to do by sending out to the negroes ' great 
varieties of excellent little works.' As they were written in 
English, a language the natives could not understand, they 
probably fell on even more stony ground than the majority 
of tracts, a form of propaganda peculiarly affected by the 

The shortcomings of the school are thus patent : they 
must not bhnd us to its excellences. Those who composed 
it were honest and God-fearing men, anxious to do the right, 
and, as such, zealously striving to propagate their own form 
of rehgion through the world. Wilberforce was working for 
the estabUshment of Christianity in Austraha in 1786, almost 
before there were any settlers there ; he was interested in 
the missions of Bengal ; he wished to ' convert, civihse, 
instruct, and attach ' the Irish ; he encouraged the project 
of founding a Hbrary in Nova Scotia, in order to minimise 
the evil results of ' French philosophy ' in that country ; he 
gave advice to the rulers of Haiti relative to religion and 
Sunday observance which fills many pages of his voluminous 

It must be confessed that httle success attended many of 
these ei!orts. The pecuharly drab garments in which Evan- 
gelical Christianity was clothed were not calculated to make 
it attractive to everybody ; and the way in which it dis- 
countenanced amusements and encouraged an unnatural 
solemnity would alone have caused its eventual rejection. 
But in endeavouring to convert all mankind, the Evangelicals 
were but obeying, according to their hghts, the command 
of their divine master. Many of the great missionary 
societies were founded by them at this time ; indeed, philan- 
thropic societies of all kinds began to flourish, from the 


British and Foreign Bible Society, to those for the improve- 
ment of prison discipline, the reformation of juvenile offenders 
and pubhc morality, the diffusion of information on capital 
punishment, and a hundred others. 

The abolition of slavery was thus not by any means the 
sole object of Wilberforce's life : but from about the year 
1786, when a correspondent mentions ' the humane subject 
that lately interested you,' until his final success, it occupied 
more and more of his time. Young and earnest, a gentleman 
of fortune with all the brilliant society of the metropolis open 
to him, he turned away from the career that most men in his 
position would have chosen, in order to work for others. He 
was only twenty-eight years of age when he broached the 
subject of slave emancipation to his friend, William Pitt 
the younger. ' At length I well remember,' he wrote many 
years later, ' after a conversation in the open air at the root 
of an old tree at Holwood, just above the steep ascent into 
the vale of Keston, I resolved to give notice on a fit occasion 
in the House of Commons to bring the subject forward.' 

From the day on which he stood by that spot, itself one 
of the most perfect examples of the peaceful Enghsh country- 
side, an organised agitation was carried on throughout the 
kingdom. The entry ' slave business ' continually recurs 
in his diary. There are few of his letters but have some 
reference to it. 

The task before him was an arduous one, since he proposed 
to destroy a powerful and wealthy commercial interest, and 
I very quickly he and his friends ' began to perceive more 
difficulties in the way than he had hoped there would be.' 
But for forty-five years there was no slackening : and in 
the next century, when the flood-gates of reform were opened, 
during the great peace, the Bill for the emancipation of the 
slaves was at last passed through ParHament in 1833. 
Wilberforce only hved to hear that it had been read a second 
time, but by then its passage was assured ; and he died 


blessing God that the labours of his hfe had been crowned 
with victory. 

Thus was the doctrine of British responsibility for the 
non-British races within the empire extended from those 
who lived in India only to those who lived in every part of 
our territories. From that time the people of Great Britain 
have been directly responsible for the welfare of all the non- 
British inhabitants in every colony that has not itself received 
responsible government ; in the latter the responsibility 
has naturally been delegated to the colonists themselves. 

Unfortmiately it cannot be said that success in this con- 
nection has always been marked ; neither can it be claimed 
that all the colonies have seen their responsibility in the same 
light, nor that the intervention of the mother country has 
always been inspired by wisdom, — a divergence of view 
caused by the varying status of the aboriginal races and the 
extent of their power, as shown by the differences in the 
amount of their vitahty and productiveness. 

Such were the first, and among the greatest, victories of 
the New Humanity, But as we look back over the nineteenth 
century, we can perceive its influence working in almost 
every direction ; and it would be difficult to discover any 
movement, even at the present day, whose origin cannot be 
traced, directly or indirectly, to the thought of the period 
between the end of the Seven Years' War and the close of 
the struggle with Napoleon. All those attempts to alleviate 
the burden of life for the weak, to make it higher and ampler 
for the strong ; to redress, as was the splendid task of the 
fabled knights-errant of chivalry, the wrongs of those aflflicted 
by the hand of man ; to succour those who have been hit by 
the pitiless economic forces of the age ; all the endeavours 
to obtain more equal opportunities for those whom the 
accident of birth has disqualified or the general course of 
events has handicapped ; all the philanthropic work of the 
last century, and the semi-socialistic experiments that are 


warmly debated among us to-day : all alike spring from that 
New Humanity whose workings were first visible in the 
indignation of Cowper and Burke at the crimes committed 
by their countrymen in the Orient. 


THE EUROPEAN WAR: 1793-1814 

On a fair day in summer, when the air is joyous with the 
laugh of children, the song of birds, the hum of insects on their 
various errands, when the sweet-scented hay lies new mown 
but yet ungathered on the fields, and the standing crops 
wave bearded in a sea of green that shows some touch of 
ripening gold ; on such a day the skies will sometimes darken 
suddenly as a storm swells up against the breeze. Silent 
are the children and the birds as the tempest gathers force 
and beats upon their hasty refuge ; the new mown ungathered 
hay is ruined by a flood of rain ; the sturdy stems of wheat 
and barley are dashed confusedly to earth, carrying in 
their fall the truant scarlet poppy that has grown with them 
in happier hours. The sun may shine again upon the 
morrow ; but the widowed fields must wait the wooing of 
another summer ere they bear. 

The familiar catastrophes of nature are sometimes paralleled 
in history ; and such a parallel occurred in Europe towards 
the close of the eighteenth century. An assured and 
permanent period of peace seemed to have dawned upon an 
unquiet world at the beginning of the French Revolution. 
A more friendly sentiment prevailed between France 
and England at that time than had been known since the 
opening of the Hundred Years' War. The patriots of Paris 
intertwined the flags of France, Britain, and America, and 
paraded the thoroughfares crying, ' Vivent les trois peuples 


libres ! ' Moderate men looked for the end of their country's 
travails neither in the despotism of the monarchy nor in the 
anarchism of the Mountain, but in a constitution modelled 
on that of England. 

And across the Channel these feelings of amity were heartily 
reciprocated. The growing influence of the New Humanity 
was entirely opposed to war ; nor was there any ground for 
a war between two nations which had but recently settled 
their quarrels in a comprehensive treaty of peace. Both 
poHtical parties in Britain were united in wishing for good 
relations with France, if they were united in nothing else. 
' To suppose any nation can be unalterably the enemy of 
another is weak and childish,' cried the younger Pitt when 
he was taunted with forgetting the traditional poHcy of 
England in opposing her continental neighbour. He argued 
great things from the popular risings that heralded the 
French Revolution ; he refused to countenance the schemes 
of invasion that were being concocted between the royaUst 
refugees of the French aristocracy and the rulers of Austria 
and Prussia. And when he found that the leaders of the 
revolutionary party in Paris were anxious for a better under- 
standing with England, he gave still warmer welcome to a 
change which, whatever its excesses, seemed about to end 
the jealousy and strife that had existed between the two 
nations for seven hundred years. ' The French Government,' 
he declared in Parliament, ' is bent on cultivating the most 
unbounded friendship with Great Britain.' 

Unhappily the tree of mutual goodwill thus so fairly 
planted and so carefully watered, bore none save the bitterest 
fruit. The old distrust of France again broke out in England 
as the Revolution descended into terrorism amd massacre ; 
the old distrust of England again sprang up in France as the 
suspicion grew that the British Government were engaging 
in an intrigue to destroy the Republic. In a wild passion 
of rhetorical invective, Edmund Burke deplored the loss of 


continuity, of gradual social evolution in France, ' without 
which,' he declared, ' men would become like flies in a 
summer ' ; and he saluted the leaders of the Revolution as 
' the ablest architects of ruin who have hitherto existed in 
the world. In a short space of time they have pulled to the 
ground their army, their navy, their commerce, their arts, 
and their manufactures.' In equally wild words French 
demagogues declared that Pitt's gold and Pitt's diplomacy 
were preparing a general attack on the Republic. 

The suspicions on either side were indeed unfounded. 
But they were none the less sufficient to destroy the transient 
feehngs of amity between France and England. The clouds 
had gathered for the coming storm ; yet none realised how 
terrible and how prolonged would be the tempest which 
succeeded the fickle calm. 

Pitt still strove for peace, while the two nations stood 
angrily fronting each other ; but when France turned on the 
world at large, confident in the belief that the ^^^^ q^^. 
whole world was ready to crush her new-found break of 
Kberties, the diplomacy of Pitt was helpless. 
The French Repubhc declared war in February 1793 ; Britain 
followed suit with a similar declaration in the following 
month. The fair hopes of the brotherhood of man died out 
as the cannon rumbled again across Europe. 

But fortune seemed to have turned from France. Her 
armies were unpaid, unfed, unclothed. At home, all was 
chaos. The civil servants had received no salary for months. 
The revenue was uncertain. The paper currency was dis- 
credited. The Directorate had become ridiculous. The whole 
machinery of the Republic had broken down in its eighth 
year of existence. The people were dangerously agitated ; 
and it was hkely to go ill with any one who attempted to 
control them. The last agonised cry of Danton from prison 
was still a warning to the surviving statesmen of the Revolu- 
tion : ' They are all brothers of Cain. ... 0, it were 


better to be a poor fisherman than to meddle with the govern- 
ing of men/ 

Other nations now anticipated, with some appearance of 
probabiUty, the dissolution of France. But they had for- 
gotten the phoenix-Uke power of rising from their own dead 
ashes which the French had shown in the past ; they had 
forgotten, as Burke had also forgotten, that those who destroy 
can sometimes rebuild the fallen fabric better than before. 

In this desperate crisis. Napoleon Buonaparte became First 
Consul of the Republic on 25th December 1799, and within a few 
Napoleon weeks the whole complexion of events had changed. 
Buonaparte, The strong hand of a master was at once evident 
in home and foreign affairs. A proclamation was 
immediately issued declaring the reign of disorder at an end : 
' The Revolution is finished.' The truth of the bald state- 
ment was witnessed by a series of drastic changes. A new 
constitution was adopted. The internal administration 
was revised. The horrible festival of the execution of the 
king, which had shocked many even of those who were not 
royalists, was abolished. Every citizen was free to quit or 
return to the Republic at his will. 

With an amnesty for the past, the future immediately 
brightened. The funds rose steadily from twelve to forty 
francs, and at times touched still higher. The State began 
to pay its creditors in money. A National Bank was founded. 
The great roads, that had fallen into decay during the troubles 
of the last ten years, were repaired. The brigands that 
infested the country were repressed. Systems of canalisa- 
tion, the last works begun under the old administration, 
were completed. The first efforts towards a codification 
of the laws were made. New schools, the germs of the 
present day lycees, were instituted. Peace was made with 
the Church. 

Confidence was restored in the army when the French 
troops under Buonaparte were again successful in Italy, 


Germany, and Austria. Their victories culminated at 
Holienlinden, which laid Vienna open to the repubhcan army. 
Austria was forced to consent to peace, and the Treaty of 
Luneville left the First Consul free to turn his attention to 

He had already made an offer of peace, which Pitt had 
sternly refused. But Pitt was now no longer in ofl&ce, and 
in his place was Addington, a man of very different ^.^^ p^^^^jg 
calibre. Through the defeat of Austria, England of Amiens, 
had lost her chief ally. France had dictated her 
own terms to Europe. Her troops were drawn up threaten- 
ingly as if to cross the Channel. Popular anxiety was rife 
at the prospect of invasion, and it was deepened by discon- 
tent and the scarcity of food. 

As the war stood, indeed, the gains of England had been 
great. She had seized every foreign colony that her navy 
could reach. Her commerce had risen by leaps and bounds. 
Her imports in 1781 had been over twelve millions sterling ; 
in 1799 they were nearly thirty millions sterling. Her 
exports had been even more progressive. In 1781 the total 
had been seven and a half millions ; in 1799 it was nearly 
thirty-four millions. 

But the enormous gains were balanced by the drain of the 
war. The best seamen of the country were impressed for the 
naval service. The subsidies to foreign powers were endless. 
The increased taxation and the national debt weighed 
heavily. Much even of the commercial gain was the result 
of unhealthy stimulation and the necessity for war material. 
On every hand was heard the cry for peace, and the most 
level-headed men in the country felt it better to secure a 
settlement while the advantages were still on the British 
side, rather than push France to extremities and rim the risk 
of losing all that eight years' strife had brought. 

Pourparlers were accordingly opened, and the negotiations 
ended in the signature at Amiens, on 25th March 1802, of a 


treaty which brought the conclusion of the maritime war. 
By its terms England kept India, Ceylon, and Trinidad. She 
restored the Cape of Good Hope, Demerara, Barbice, Esse- 
quibo, and Surinam to Holland : Martinique and Guadeloupe 
to France : Minorca to Spain. She was to evacuate Malta 
under a guarantee of its neutrality by the powers. Porto- 
Ferraio and Elba were restored to France, and the latter was 
to evacuate Egypt. 

The news of the conclusion of peace was the signal for 
outbursts of enthusiasm in both countries. The French 
were welcomed in London. Crowds of English gentlemen 
travelled at once to Paris to see the new France of the Revolu- 
tion. Fox was received by Buonaparte in friendly and almost 
affectionate intercourse. 

In England the trading classes now looked forward to a 
reduction of taxation and an unbounded extension of wealth. 
And statesmen were again ready to take up the schemes of 
reform that had perforce fallen through at the outbreak of 

Across the Channel, in the midst of the rejoicings at the 
peace, the settlement of France at home, and the extension of 
her power abroad, there was no thought save one of gratitude 
to the First Consul, who in two years had rescued the State 
from bankruptcy and defeat. The future seemed serene ; 
only one solitary philosopher, remembering a parallel from 
the ancient world that fitted too well, remarked : ' This young 
man begins like Csesar : I fear he also will end like him. . . .' 

But the peace of Amiens was but a truce, — and a truce that 
was kept for a few months only. At first, indeed, the settle- 
jj^g ment seemed lasting. Buonaparte turned from 

Napoleonic war to civil administration, with the determina- 
mpire. ^-^^ ^^ complete the restoration of order at home. 
His enmity to England had apparently disappeared. Once he 
even went so far as to express the hope of a cordial alhance 
between France, mistress of the land, and England, mistress 


of the sea. But the overbearing temper of the Fitst Consul, 
now Consul for hfe, and the natural distrust of him in 
England, soon shattered the peace. The Cabinet in London 
refused to give up Malta until the promised guarantee that it 
should be left neutral was secured. The well-founded sus- 
picion that further plans were forming for the reduction of 
Egypt and Syria seemed to be confirmed by a report pub- 
Ushed in the official organ of the Republic, the Moniteur. 
Still other schemes had been conceived for the extension of 
French power in India. On the continent, the new govern- 
ments that had been set up in Piedmont, Switzerland, and 
Holland became mere tools of Napoleon. 

When the English ministers protested, they were answered 
insultingly with a demand for the expulsion of the French 
refugees in London, the suppression of the newspapers which 
criticised Napoleon, and the immediate evacuation of Malta. 
The British ambassador at Paris was obliged to intimate 
that language which might be used to a small power could 
not be addressed to the United Kingdom, that the right of 
refuge on British shores was inviolable, that the freedom 
of the press was a constitutional maxim, and that Malta was 
only held until proper securities for its independence were 

But remonstrance of any sort merely exasperated Napoleon. 
His tone became still more warKke. ' In less than two years,' 
he had said to his companions after the battle of Marengo in 
1800, ' I have conquered Cairo, IMilan, Paris ; and if I died 
to-morrow I should not have half a page to myself in a 
universal history." Since the peace, however, he had seemed 
to put away the ambition to go down to posterity as a great 
conqueror. But now his temper changed. He was heard 
to utter that after all his destiny was war. To the British 
representative he declared, ' If you wish for war, you have 
only to say it — we will make it until one or other nation is 
ruined.' In an address to the Legislative Assembly, he 


taunted England with being unable to wage a contest alone 
witb France. In a general reception of the diplomatic corps, 
he exclaimed twice to our ambassador, ' You wish for war ? 
You wish for war ? ' 

With such provocations from France, with a proud and 
bellicose temper in England, a rupture became inevitable. 
The War Preparations were hurriedly made on both sides, 
Eenewed, and, in May 1803, hostiUties commenced with a 
declaration of war by the British Cabinet. The 
first step taken by Napoleon was to plan a gigantic invasion 
of England. ' We are going,' wrote the First Consul, ' to 
avenge six centuries of insults and shame ; England is ours 
... let us be masters of the Channel for six hours, and we 
are masters of the world. ' 

But after waiting over two years, it was found impossible 
to cross the Straits of Dover. Disappointed in the hope of 
immediate success against England, and stung to the quick 
by the European coalition which now threatened him in the 
rear, Napoleon swung round his forces to execute vengeance 
on the continental powers. 

Everything was in his favour. He was as uncontrolled at 
home as any of the Bourbons had been. He was absolute 
master of a rejuvenated nation that had always been cele- 
brated for mihtary prowess, but was now doubly anxious to 
excel. He had already brought the talisman of victory to 
the army, and the army and he were unequalled in the world. 
He had been proclaimed Emperor of the French, and his 
imagination was busy with the still greater title of Emperor 
of the West. He hoped to restore, perhaps to increase, the 
dominions of Charlemagne. In one respect indeed he had 
already surpassed the great monarch of the Middle Ages : for 
whereas Charlemagne had gone to Rome to be crowned by 
the Pope, the Pope came to Paris to crown Napoleon. 

On the other hand, the enemies of France were faced by all 
the difficulties inseparable from a coalition. Divided counsels, 


divided conmiands, and petty jealousies were visible every- 
where. Their military reputation was not unsullied. The 
Austrians had already been defeated. The Prussian The French 
army had declined from the days of the great Europe^ 
Frederick. The undisciphned Russians were in 1803-12. 
no condition to resist the flower of the GaUic troops. Sweden 
was isolated ; the monarchy there had sunk far from its 
greatness of the seventeenth century, and Napoleon had 
himself taunted its ambassador with representing a third- 
rate State. Italy, Holland, Belgium, and Switzerland were 
absolutely under the control of France. 

All went well for Napoleon. The victory of AusterUtz 
shattered the alUance of Russia and Austria. A year later, 
Prussia was overthrown at Jena. At Freidland, Russia was 
forced to sue for peace. A great battle at Wagram opened 
Vienna to the Grand Army of France. BerKn was entered 
in triumph, and the king of Prussia became an exile at Koenigs- 
berg. Spain was invaded, and a relative of Buonaparte was 
set up as monarch at Madrid. 

The whole continent was now humbled beneath Napoleon. 
But success only inspired the Emperor to vaster projects. 
He saw himself a greater dictator than Caesar or Alexander 
had been. He was to be the autocrat who hushed the strife 
of warring nations into uniform peace. He was to be the 
human god that crushed the petty kings whose day was past. 
The continent at last united into the single imperial system 
he was planning, his hands would be free to turn against the 
arch-enemy, England. The French troops once in London, 
he would be master of land and sea. The British colonies 
and India would fall into his grasp ; and Napoleon would 
be in fact, as he was already in contemplation, the ruler of 
the world. 

The arrogance of the conqueror, an arrogance caused and 
justified by his own overpowering greatness, by his stupen- 
dous success, and by the comparative pettiness of his foes, 


whose ancient Idngdoms crumbled like paper at the first 
touch of his hand, appears often in his despatches, and in 
the epigrammatic sentences he threw out in camp. After 
Jena, for instance, ' All this has been child's play. . . . Enough 
of this ; I am now going to treat my enemies so that I shall 
finish with them all.' When he saw the corruption of 
Turkey, ' We must have done with an empire that can last 
no longer ; we must hinder its fragments from contributing 
to augment the dominion of England.' When the danger of 
invading Spain was pointed out, ' I shall find in Spain the 
Pillars of Hercules ; I shall not find there the limits of 
my power.' And when his ministers remonstrated after the 
battle of Wagram, ' There can only be serious events in the 
theatre where I am operating, and there I am present to 
dominate all.' 

After what manner the conqueror would have used his 
power we can only speculate. In some respects he was as 
great a civil administrator as a soldier ; his work as First 
Consul of France showed him possessed of a genius for prac- 
tical reforms, and his gift for organisation was superb. 

But the day of universal empire, as of pure militarism, 
had gone by in Europe, if indeed it ever existed. There was 
no foundation for the conquests of Napoleon ; he had no 
political principles to guide him after a victory had been 
won. He seized any alliance that presented itself, even on 
the field of battle with a conquered foe. He made treaties 
successively with Austria, Prussia, and Russia ; within a 
few months all were broken. The very members of his own 
family that he raised to vacant thrones neglected his interests. 
If he made war with his genius, says the great French historian 
of the times, he made politics with his passions ; and the 
remark is the key to the weakness of his empire. 

As a statesman, the name of Napoleon was great before 
the rupture of the Peace of Amiens ; but from that time not 
one of his creations endured. The Idngdoms that he over- 


turned were soon restored and continue intact to this day ; 
his two finest projects, the restoration of Poland and the 
establishment of a republic in Italy, both died with him. 

The disastrous retreat of the Emperor and the Grand Army 
of France from Moscow in 1812 was the beginning of the end. 
All Europe rose against the oppressor ; and ^j^^ f u of 
although Napoleon maintained a splendid struggle Napoleon, 
of despair, France was invaded by the allies. The ^^^*' 
indignities that had been cast on Vienna and BerHn were 
avenged when the foreign armies entered Paris. The Emperor 
consented to abdicate, for his position was now hopeless, and 
France herself turned against the man whom she had lately 
adored. The country resounded with curses on the ' Ogre 
of Corsica ' ; there were cries of ' A bas le tyran ! A mort le 
tyran ! ' And men who but a few months before had not 
dared a whisper against Napoleon now criticised his govern- 
ment, his ambition, even his military capacity. His statue 
in Paris was taken down. In one place, he was obliged to 
change into foreign uniform to protect himself from the mob. 

At length he arrived at Elba, the one spot of all his con- 
quered realms that now remained to him. ' A new Sancho, 
I shall think only of the happiness of my island,' he laughed 
sarcastically ; and there, separated from wife and child, from 
generals and army, from empire and provinces, and the pomp 
and panoply of power, he was to remain a space, — until the 
lust of dominion drew him forth to play one last desperate 
game with fate. 



If Napoleon won victory after victory on land, he could not 
gain success for France at sea. The fleet of Britain still 
dominated the ocean ; and instead of a monument at Paris 


commemorating the last and greatest triumph of the Emperor, 
we find to-day only a column which calls to mind the fact 
that the army at Boulogne menaced England, and did no 
more. The medal that Napoleon caused to be prepared in 
advance, inscribed ' struck at London,' to signahse his entry 
into the enemy's capital, now appeals only to the curiosity 
of the antiquary. The British Navy alone stood between 
the British Empire and destruction ; but it was equal to 
the task. 

It was, indeed, by no accident that the navy was eJB&cient. 
However blind the nation had been to its opportmiities in the 
The Navy colonies, it never failed to appreciate the import- 
and tbe ance of sea-power. The victory over the Armada 
^ ^°^' entered deep into the heart of the people ; it was 

recognised with thankfulness as a divine providence, but none 
the less was it recognised how manifestly the tactics of Howard 
and Drake had seconded the will of heaven. The lesson that 
the safety of the country centred in the fleet was never for- 
gotten. It was enforced again and again by the most different 
writers and the most varying schools of thought. 

Bacon found that ' he that commands the sea is at great 
liberty, and may take as much and as little of the war as he 
will, whereas those that be strongest by land are many times 
nevertheless in great straits.' Waller sang that his country- 
men were ' lords of the world's great waste, the ocean,' and 
again that ' others may use the ocean as their road, only the 
English make it their abode.' When he celebrated the wars 
of the Commonwealth, he cried, ' Men that fight so, deserve 
to rule the sea.' Pepys heard ' with great pleasure of the 
superiority of the Enghsh fleet of his time, over that of the 
previous century. To Dryden the fleet was ' mistress of the 
seas,' the ' ancient lord ' of the ocean ; the proper care of the 
nation was ' new ships to build, and battered to repair.' Even 
Pope found that realms were ' commanded by our oaks.' 
And Thomson, in 1739, wrote the national anthem, the 


proudest expression of sea-power, in which he exulted that 
' Britannia rules the waves ! ' 

The one subject on which men of every party were united 
was the necessity of a strong navy for England ; and it would 
be dijQ&cult to say how great an effect this united attitude has 
had upon the foundation of the empire. The fleet on its 
side was worthy of the trust reposed in it, and the enthusiasm 
inspired by it. Seldom was it worsted by an enemy. The 
unconquerable breed of sailors by whom it was manned were 
perhaps no more courageous than the enemies with whom 
they fought ; but the recklessness with which the British 
seamen entered the fight, the doggedness with which they 
pursued it, the thorough mastery of their ships and of naval 
tactics, in which they were unequalled, nearly always gave 
them the victory. 

They were at home on the water ; they loved their home 
and the country they served, and detested the foe and all his 
doings, with a childlike innocence curiously in contrast with 
their rugged strength of character and profound knowledge 
of their profession. ' Hate a Frenchman as you would the 
devil,' was Nelson's advice to those under him ; they pro- 
bably obeyed without difficulty. Even the unwilling con- 
scripts caught the infection of duty. 

The fleet had done worthy service during the earlier wars 
of the eighteenth century. And in the final great struggle 
against France, when Britain could do little at Trafalgar, 
first on land but subsidise other nations, it was ^^*'^- 
on the water that her great victories were won. At the out- 
break of hostilities, the Enghsh fleet which was watching 
Toulon was driven away ; but the next year the French were 
defeated by Howe off Brest. Three years later Jervis damaged 
the Spaniards in the battle of Cape St. Vincent, while the 
Dutch were almost annihilated at Camperdown. Nelson's 
victory of the Nile crushed the French schemes for the reduc- 
tion of Egypt, and the capture of Malta deprived them of 



their base. Meanwhile, the severe manner in which Britain 
had acted towards the vessels of non-combatant nations, in- 
sisting on the right of search and the confiscation of goods 
carried in neutral bottoms when destined for the enemy, had 
brought about a renewal of the coalition of 1780, the Armed 
Neutrality of the North. Russia, Sweden, Denmark, and 
Prussia banded themselves together, encouraged by Napoleon, 
to refuse British ships entry to their ports. The coahtion 
hoped to close the continent to British trade, in revenge for 
the violation of neutral flags ; and that measure, had it been 
successful, would almost have ruined England. But the 
Armed Neutrality was broken in the decisive battle of 
Copenhagen ; and four years later, after unceasing watch- 
fulness over Napoleon's camp at Boulogne, the crowning 
victory of Nelson at Trafalgar destroyed the French and 
Spanish fleets. 

How deeply the news of this disaster to his arms disquieted 
Napoleon is shown by his wish to diminish its import. He 
ordered the newspapers to speak of it as a calamity caused 
rather by the tempest than by the British ; but he thought 
no more of invading England till the whole continent should 
lie at his feet. 

The invasion and occupation of England by the Grand Army 
were now no longer possible ; the victory of Nelson at Trafalgar 
meant, indeed, although the fact was not fully reahsed at the 
time, that for the remainder of the war the command of the 
sea by Britain was to be undisputed, and that the only danger 
to her coasts was that a sudden raid or descent of the enemy 
might damage some unprotected spot in the absence of the 

It meant, too, that India was safe from aggression ; that 
South Africa remained in British hands ; that the infant 
settlement in Australia could no longer be menaced by a 
French descent on the Antipodes ; that the West Indian 
islands were secure. And it meant that the little outposts 


of empire, those small red spots that dot the maps of the 
two hemispheres, and preserve the ocean road of Britain to 
the remotest of her possessions, were henceforth safe from 

And in time it was discovered that the last victory of Nelson 
meant more even than this ; for the destruction of the French 
and Spanish fleets in Trafalgar Bay gave Britain the undis- 
puted supremacy of the outer world during the whole of the 
nineteenth century. 



The great wars raged in all the earth ; and the struggle for 
empire, which began with the attack of England and Holland 
on the Latin monopoly of the newly-discovered outer world 
in the sixteenth century, drew to a close when the two great 
Latin powers of France and Spain were defeated at Trafalgar. 
America and Africa had been involved in these strifes and 
rivalries of Europe, but the most bitter contest was that for 
the possession of Lidia ; and as the influence of one European 
nation after another rose and fell in the Orient, the importance 
of the great ocean highway to the East, whose whole length 
every vessel must make ere it drops anchor before Calicut or 
Malabar, forced attention to the isles and islets with which 
that highway is strewn from the Azores to Ceylon. Some 
were scarce more than rocks, hardly large enough to supply 
a base from which pirates could raid an honest trader ; others, 
such as Mauritius, extensive, fertile, and beautiful, were 
worth possessing for their own wealth and charm ; and one, 
Madagascar, was almost an empire in itself. 

The conflict grew and widened, and then narrowed again, 
as the dominance of Southern Asia passed definitely into 


British hands ; but the surging tides of conquest are recordec 
indelibly in the maps and annals of the Indian Ocean. Aral 
and Malay names mingle curiously with those commemorating 
Portuguese explorers, Dutch merchant captains, Frencl 
adventurers, and English traders. A small archipelag( 
recalls Vasco de Gama, the first great Latin traveller tc 
cross those waters ; Mauritius claims its name from the Dutcl 
statesman, Maurice of Nassau ; the Seychelles are callec 
after a captain in the French East India service, and almosi 
every island in that group is named from an eighteenth 
century Frenchman, The Keeling Islands preserve th( 
memory of an Enghsh navigator, and many another cora 
island or isolated rock owes its title on the chart to the fanc] 
or the humour of our old seamen. 

The older or South African road to India has been displaced 
but not abandoned, in favour of the Suez Canal ; and alonj 
both routes Britain has come to possess the chief strategic 
points, to guard that vast highway the length of which he: 
ships, the spermatozoa of empire, beat daily to and fro ii 
active, restless search for the most distant of our far depend 
encies in the utmost waters of the earth. The gates of th* 
world are in the hands of the mighty from age to age ; th( 
nation that holds the solitary rocks and islands of mid-ocear 
holds sway also in remote continents and among strang( 

But the keys of the Indian Ocean only passed from Franc* 
to Britain when the sea-power of Britain towered above tha' 
The Failure ^^ ^^^ other countries in the Napoleonic wars 
in Mada- and the largest and most valuable of all the islands 
gascar. commanding those tropical waters feU definitelj 

and finally to France after a struggle lasting over tw( 
centuries. The French won Madagascar by their pertinacity 
the British lost it for lack of any definite aim.^ 

^ Authorities. — For Madagascar, Lyons M'Leod's Madagascar ; Ellis'i 
Visits to Madagascar, which must be ixsed with caution, since he was i 


That great East African island, of whose existence medi- 
aeval and even ancient Europe had perhaps heard some vague 
uncertain rumours, was discovered by the Portuguese navi- 
gator, Fernan Suarez, in 1506. At first nothing more was 
known of Madagascar than that ' the inhabitants were very 
numerous, of simple manners, and had not up to that time 
heard of the rehgion of Christ ' ; and the Portuguese did 
httle more than establish a temporary station on the coast, 
and send an expedition into the interior to search for silver. 

For nearly a century afterwards Madagascar was aban- 
doned by Europe, until French and English travellers appeared 
almost simultaneously on the island. The French East India 
Company sent a vessel thither in 1642 ; two years later an 
English settlement seems to have been established at St. 
Augustine's Bay.^ But civil strife at home often checks 
expansion overseas ; the place was neglected during the 
struggle between king and parliament in England, and 
Madagascar was soon abandoned by the British. The French 
stayed on ; and from that time they never entirely gave up 
the hope of conquering the island. 

But they had many vicissitudes to face ; and internal 
quarrels, that recurrent plague of French colonies, broke out 
here as in India and Canada. The Governor of Fort Dauphin, 
as the Gallic station was named, was a Huguenot, his associ- 
ates were Catholics ; and religious passions ran high. The 

participator in the events he narrates, and had good reason for not always 
revealing all his own acts ; Keller's Madagascar is by far the best work on 
the subject, if not always full enough in detail. Mauritius may be studied 
in Grant's History ; in an interesting, but not always accurate, series of 
articles in Fraser's Magazine, 1879 ; in J. F. Anderson's Histoire de 
Protestantisme a Vile Maurice, Paris, 1903, invaluable for its special 
subject. Stirling's Cursory Notes on the Isle of France are of little value ; 
useful sidelights are thrown by Boyle's Far Aicay, and Bishop Vincent 
Ryan's Journals. The latter deals also with the Seychelles and other 
oceanic islands. 

^ There was at one time an idea that Prince Rupert should engage in 
the conquest of Madagascar ; a poem on the subject was dedicated to liim 
and published in 1638. But that impetuous leader found other employ- 
ment in the outbreak of the Civil War in England shortly afterwards. 


Governor, who had married a native of Madagascar, was 
charged with squandering the general funds of the station 
for the amusement of his lady ; and whether true or not, the 
accusation served its purpose. The unlucky ruler was over- 
powered and imprisoned by his subordinates. 

In the end he regained his authority, and expelled his 
captors, who migrated with some Malagasy women to the 
island of Bourbon ; from which place the children of these 
hardy exiles spread to Mauritius, the Seychelles, and the 
Amirantes, establishing new French colonies of dubious 
character wherever they went. Freebooting became their 
profitable trade, and for long piracy was as rife in East Indian 
as in West Indian seas. 

But meantime other troubles had overtaken the French 
in Madagascar. Some of the natives had been sold as slaves 
to the Dutch ; and for this act, which savoured of treachery, 
the French paid dear. The aborigines lost faith in Europeans, 
and thenceforward there was continual war on the island. 
Three times was Fort Dauphin reduced to ashes ; in 1672 
the place was abandoned. 

Another century passed ; but although the eastern seas 
were filled with the strife of French and English, neither 
disturbed the repose of Madagascar. Not until 1774 were 
the old French claims revived, when a settlement was estab- 
lished at Antongil Bay by the Hungarian adventurer Ben- 
yowski. This extraordinary man ^ gained the complete 
confidence of the Malagasies, who elected him their king ; 
he constructed roads, canals, and forts in the island ; but his 
success proved more dangerous than failure might have 
been. The Governor of the neighbouring French colony of 

1 Benyowski had fought for the Poles against Russia, had been taken 
prisoner and sent to Kamchatka. His life there was a romance ; the 
Governor's daughter loved him, he accepted and perhaps returned her 
devotion. At any rate, she helped him to escape ; and after a series 
of exploits, which certainly lose nothing in his narration, he reached 


Mauritius was envious, and intrigued against him ; and 
Benyowski, tired of Gallic inconsistency, ofiered the island 
to other powers, among them being Austria and Britain. 
Neither accepted ; and thus Britain lost her second oppor- 
tunity in Madagascar. Benyowski was murdered in 1786 
by the French ; and for some years forward that nation 
only maintained a few stations on the eastern coast of the 
island, all of which were captured in 1811 by the British. 

Both Mauritius and Bourbon had already fallen to England ; 
and since British influence was now paramount in the Indian 
Ocean, it seemed probable that Madagascar would likewise 
fall into our hands. Nor was the desire to subdue the place 
lacking. Governor Farquhar of Mauritius claimed the 
larger island under the terms of the Treaty of Paris ; and 
when the claim, as absurd as it was impudent, was repudiated 
by the French and withdrawn by the British, he took the 
better method of opening amicable relations with the Malagasy 
tribes themselves. 

In 1817 the British agent in Antananarivo took the oath 
of blood with the king of the Hovas. In all things the two 
were to be as brothers ; the slave trade was abolished in the 
same year, the British paying £2000 annually as compensation 
to the native monarch ; ^ and the British Government under- 
took the education of twenty Hova youths, ten in London 
and ten in Mauritius. British missionaries now began the 
great work of converting the Malagasies to Christianity : 
the Gospel was preached, the Bible was translated ; the 
people were taught to read and write, to engage in regular 
industry, and to follow commercial pursuits. The Hova 
army was reorganised and trained by British officers ; in 
1825 Fort Dauphin was captured, and French power in 
Madagascar seemed finally at an end. 

^ The Acting-Governor of Mauritius, in Farquhar's absence, repudiated 
the agreement, to the disgust of the Hovas. The difficulty was soon 
removed on Farquhar's return ; but for some time the expression ' False 
as the English ' was proverbial in Madagascar. 


But British influence was as yet purely superficial. The 
death of King Radama in 1828 brought a violent reaction 
against foreign ideas, and under his successor, Queen Rana- 
valona, the missionaries and traders were expelled. The 
spread of Christianity was ascribed to sorcery, and Rana- 
valona declared that she would put an end to that creed if 
it cost the life of every convert in Madagascar. A reign of 
terror set in, and some of the Malagasies admitted that their 
profession of Christianity was due to political or personal 
rather than religious motives. ' We were doing work for 
government service under the white people,' said one re- 
luctant or fearful convert, ' and they would not have liked 
us if we had not gone ' to hear the missionaries ; others 
among the young men suggested that ' to look for pretty 
women was our end in going ; for there were assembled the 
cleanly and handsome.' And there is no reason to doubt 
that the native beauties wilHngly adopted that portion of 
the rehgious creed of England which makes the church a 
convenient centre for the exhibition of milUnery at the stated 
times of public worship. 

In 1861, however, the pagan queen died, and the British 
quickly regained their influence. Two years later a revolu- 
tion took place, in which the rebels demanded that the Hova 
king should break with the French, who had been favoured 
by Ranavalona ; and when he refused he was strangled. 
In this afiair English intrigues played a not very creditable 
part ; but the British profited by the crime. Trade with 
Madagascar increased, and the Hova kingdom was soon 
described as practically a colony of the London Missionary 
Society. The French again lost ground year after year, 
and the last vestige of their influence seemed to have de- 
parted now that their settlements were reduced to a few 
insignificant places on the coast. 

But the British did not take advantage of the discomfiture 
of their rivals. The Imperial Government of the day had no 


desire to enlarge its oversea possessions. There was no 
popular demand for the conquest of Madagascar. The British 
settlers in the island, too, seemed satisfied with the position 
as it stood, apparently not realising that if they did not annex 
Madagascar, another European nation would do so. And as 
France gradually recovered from her defeat by Germany 
in 1871, she revived her old claims ; from the year 1883 her 
influence on the island grew steadily ; and the studied policy 
of the British, who had elevated the Hovas from the position 
of the leading tribe into that of rulers of Madagascar, now 
aided the French, for it was easier to crush one centraHsed 
enemy than many small foes. The island was proclaimed 
a French protectorate : Antananarivo was taken in 1895 ; 
two years later Madagascar was declared a French colony, 
and, on 27th February 1897, the native queen was deposed.^ 

The chief prize of the Indian seas was thus lost to Britain ; 
and the French intention of converting Diego Suarez, a haven 
in the north of Madagascar, into a naval stronghold, caused 
some Uttle uneasiness in England. But of the smaller and 
less valuable islands in these waters, many already acknow- 
ledged the Union Jack ; and the highway of empire had 
been strengthened by the acquisition of such places as 
Mauritius, the Seychelles, and the coral archipelagoes which 
lie scattered between Africa and Asia. 

The three islands of Mauritius, Bourbon or Reunion, and 
Rodriguez, often called collectively the Mascarenes, from 
the Portuguese traveller, Pedro de Mascarenhas, Mauritius 
who discovered them in 1513, were the chief isio. 
centres of French power in the Eastern seas throughout the 
whole of the eighteenth century. 

Mauritius had been occupied by the Dutch in 1598, on their 
first engaging in the Indian trade ; but when their power 

^ Considerable jealousy was shown in England at the time. The 
French conquest was a brilliant piece of work ; but in 1895 Punch pub- 
lished an unworthy cartoon, representing a French soldier dying, and 
rejoicing in his last moments that his death v. ould annoy the English. 


began to decline, they abandoned the island in 1715, having 
founded the town of Grand Port, now known as Mahebourg. 
A few Dutch names still linger in the island as rehcs of the 
past ; but Mauritius was occupied almost at once by the 
French, and for nearly a century the He de France, as it was 
called affectionately by the settlers, was an object of peculiar 

There was no lack of colonists for a land so fertile ; and, 
more fortunate than the ill-fated colony of Louisiana in 
America, which was founded about the same time, both the 
planters and their wives were of good character. Orphan 
girls were sent out frcf n Paris to Mauritius ; and in a healthy 
climate, with an easy, happy Hfe, the fecundity of the race 
was found to increase,^ while the beauty both of the women 
and of their children was admitted by all. Many fortunes 
were made by sugar cultivation ; ^ there was no lack of labour 
from the neighbouring African tribes ; and under the wise 
rule of Labourdonnais and others, the place prospered greatly. 
The city of Port Louis was founded in 1735 by Labourdonnais, 
who introduced cotton and indigo, built hospitals, and con- 
structed an aqueduct ; while in 1768 the celebrated Botanical 
Gardens at Pamplemousses — the scene of the pathetic tragedy 
of Paul et Virginie — were estabhshed. 

Bourbon and Rodriguez were hardly less happy than 
Mauritius. Unhke the French colonies in the West Indies, 
all three weathered the French Revolution without mishap ; 
but during the Napoleonic wars, and as a consequence of 
the predominance of British sea-power throughout the 
world, they were lost to their motherland. On 6th July 
1810, twenty British vessels appeared off Bourbon, and 

^ It will be remembered that in less propitious circumstances the 
fecundity of the French declined in Quebec at this period. See vol. i. 
book iv. chap. iv. 

" If a French planter were so unfortunate as to fail, he generally 
emigrated to Madagascar, where he cast about for a Malagasy woman 
with property, married her, and settled down as well as he might 
on the proceeds. 


four days later the island capitulated before an overwhelming 
force of five thousand men. A few months later, on 6th 
December, Mauritius was likewise captured ; and Rodriguez 
fell with its larger fellows. Bourbon was restored to France 
in 1815, and renamed Reunion in memory of the event ; 
but Mauritius and Rodriguez remain British possessions to 
this day. 

Mauritius, however, was not altogether fortunate in its 
new masters. The island had been much to France ; it was 
Uttle to Britain. And its prosperity gradually declined, as 
several causes united to lessen its former wealth and 
importance. The aboHtion of slavery in 1835 checked the 
sugar plantations, and the emancipated negroes became 
the owners of small holdings in preference to working on the 
plantations ; and though Indian kuHs were introduced and 
found satisfactory, 1 the closely cultivated soil presently 
began to suffer from exhaustion, and the plants from 
parasites. The competition of the sugar-beet now injured 
the growers of the sugar-cane ; ^ while the opening of the 
Suez Canal and the introduction of the steamboat diverted 
much profitable shipping which had hitherto used the 
island as a port of call. Mauritius could no longer be justly 
called the Star and Key of the Indian Seas, as its Latin 
motto implied, when the main bulk of shipping passed it by. 

Sanitation was neglected, and the island, formerly noted 
for its salubrity, became a centre of disease. Port Louis in 
particular was dirty,^ and subject to malaria ; cholera broke 
out from time to time and slew thousands. On such occa- 

^ By 1863 two-thirds of the population were Indian kulis. 

^ The striking analogy between the history of Mauritius and the West 
Indies is obviously due to similarities of climate, soil, products, and 
population. The Suez Canal, however, harmed Mauritius by displacing 
it from its position on a main trade route ; the Panama Canal will give 
the West Indies the advantage. 

^ ' Only one-fourth of the excreta of the 78,000 inhabitants of Port 
Louis is removed ; the remainder is left to be absorbed by the earth, or 
is carried into the open drains and ditches of the town.' — Extract from 
an Official Report. 


sions the timid took to religion and the careless took to 
drink ; but the real cause of the evil was for long not attended 

The French population remained true at heart to the 
country of its origin ; French customs have been pre- 
served to this day ; a French patois is still spoken,^ and 
French laws mix incongruously with EngHsh in the adminis- 
tration of justice. The descendants of the older settlers, 
the aristocracy of the place, Hkewise remained true to the 
Roman form of Christianity, which their ancestors had 
professed in France ; but protestant missionaries from 
England were quickly in the field. Mauritius was made an 
episcopal see of the Church of England, with ecclesiastical 
authority over the other British possessions in the Indian 
Ocean ; and Vincent Ryan, the first bishop, preached 
strenuously and with some apparent success to the kuU 
immigrants from India and Africa, His converts were 
many ; even his cathedral was a converted powder- 

But despite the good bishop's toil, the field was too great 
and too uncultivated for any real impression to be made for 
many years. A traveller discovered a Christian Hindu who 
still sacrificed to Vishnu, excusing himself with the remark 
that ' the Blessed Virgin is good, but Vishnu is good too ; 
if I could please the Virgin and Vishnu too, I should have a 
double chance of getting through safely.' And the African 
converts believed that the new religion was rather a talisman 
against the evils of this world than a passport to the glories 
of another. In their view, Christianity was desirable 
because, when ' cholera come to Indian boy, he no die ; 
come to African, he die. Indian boy baptized, African no 
baptized.' It was a fact that the Africans had not been 

' The greater part of Mauritian literature is printed in French ; but 
in the present century a change in favour of English has become 


baptized, since it was doubted whether they understood 
the meaning of the new doctrines ; it was a coincidence 
favourable to superstition that they died more rapidly of 
the cholera than the Asiatics. 

The creeds of the world might dispute their efl&cacy in 
Mauritius ; but whatever ground the island ajEEorded for 
the efforts of the religious, its material prosperity continued 
to decline from year to year. At the beginning of the 
twentieth century a melancholy picture might have been 
drawn of a once flourishing colony steadily sinking deeper into 
the mire of poverty ; pauperism had increased until it became 
a serious economic problem, the taxation for the rehef of 
distress was so heavy that it aggravated the evil it was 
intended to abate ; unemployment and disease were constant 
factors in Mauritius, and the conclusion became inevitable 
that it was overpopulated.^ The total number of its inhabi- 
tants in 1908 was 376,635, and there was some tendency to 
desert an island which had apparently seen its best days. 

Poor as it is, Mauritius has its share of authority. The 
island of Rodriguez is administered by a magistrate under 
the control of the Mauritian Government ; and Dependencies 
the Chagos Islands, an extensive archipelago of °^ Mauritius, 
coral formation, are likewise ruled from Port Louis. The 
largest of this latter group of one hundred and fifty islands 
is Diego Garcia, which has a good harbour. It was used as 
a refuge for lepers in the eighteenth century, when it was 
under the control of France ; a hundred years later, a 
temporary coaling-station was estabhshed there, and it 
became a port of call for AustraUan steamers. 

The total population of the Chagos Islands is rather over 
a thousand, of which Diego Garcia contains about half : 
the Galagas and Cargados group, which are known as ' oil 
islands,' from their produce of cocoanut oil, are not regularly 

^ See particularly the Official Report on Mauritius for 1908. 


More fortunate of recent years than Mauritius, the 
Seychelles archipelago, a series of some eighty granitic islands 
sevcheues ^^^ islets, were originally discovered but not 
and Depend- peopled by the Portuguese. They were annexed 
encies, 1794. -^ ^^^^ by France ; and the first Gallic colony 
was founded in 1768 at Mahe, the largest of the group, which 
took its name from Mahe Labourdonnais, the great bene- 
factor of Mauritius, and in some ways the greatest man who 
has ruled in the Indian Ocean. From time to time other 
French planters followed the example of the pioneer settlers 
from the Mascarenes ; but the Seychelles were seized by a 
Captain Newcome for the British on 17th May 1794. So little 
difference did the change of allegiance make in the circum- 
stances of the colony, however, that the last French Governor 
retained his position for some years as British agent ; and 
indeed the strife of rival European nationalities was hardly 
noticed in these remote islands. French manners and 
customs persisted under British rule in the Seychelles, as 
they had done in Mauritius, from which dependency those 
islands were administered until 1888. 

Prosperity declined for a time when slavery was abolished 
in 1834 ; but of late years there has been a considerable 
revival ; cofiee, sugar, and spices still being grown, and both 
rubber and vanilla yielding valuable crops. The inhabitants, 
who are more French than English, are both healthy and 
prolific ; the death-rate in 1906 was but 16.48, and the 
birth-rate 31.01 per thousand. 

The Amirantes, the home of the gigantic land-tortoise, are 
a group of some one hundred and fifty islets and rocks to 
the east of the Seychelles. Discovered in 1502 by the 
Portuguese, they are named after the great Admiral Vasco 
de Gama ; their geographical position necessarily links them 
poUtically with the Seychelles. 

The island of Aldabra, which with Cosmoledo, Assumption, 
and Astove, lies between the Seychelles and Comoro, is 


under the administration of the Seychelles. Its annals 
may be expressed in the terms of the yearly catch of turtles 
and fish, — a form of history which can be left without regret 
to local talent. 

Other dependencies of the Seychelles are the Alphonse, 
Bijoutier, St. Frangois, and St. Pierre islands. They are 
Httle more than oceanic rocks ; and as their names imply, 
they originally belonged to France. It is a matter of the 
smallest importance to what nation they adhere ; they have 
no settled population. 

The Providence and Farquhar rocks may also be included 
in this list. The latter is called after the energetic British 
Governor of Mauritius ; the former probably owes its name 
to a sailor who escaped shipwreck there. Both are rather 
dangers to navigation than advantages to empire. 

All these islands possessed a certain importance in the 
eighteenth century ; all were on or near the great highway 
to India, and aU derived some advantages from ^^^^ Medi- 
their geographical position. Each was in some terranean 
sort a tavern of the eastern seas, where honest ^^ ^^^" 
traders or pirates refreshed themselves during the toils of 
a long voyage ; and each prospered better in the days of 
saihng ships and leisured travel than when quick steamers 
rendered intermediate ports of call useless. 

But there was another reason for the diminishing value of 
these small tropical islands of the eastern tropics. The con- 
struction of the Suez Canal in the year 1869 by the French 
engineer, De Lesseps, if it did not reduce or change the pre- 
dominance of British power in the East, at least worked a 
profound alteration in the relative value of the line of com- 
munications by which that power was guarded.^ The centre 
of gravity shifted ; and the main ocean highway of empire, 

1 The work Wtas begun in 1860, after several years spent in surveying 
and planning. Tlie first steamer passed through on 28th September 1869, 
with De Lesseps on board. 


instead of stretching as before from Plymouth to the Cape of 
Good Hope and from tiie Cape onwards towards India, now 
ran through the Mediterranean, the Red Sea, and along the 
southern shores of Asia. 

The canal was at first indeed strongly opposed by the British, 
partly because it was a French scheme, and one that originated 
in modern times with Napoleon ; but mainly because it was 
feared that it would damage the supremacy of England as the 
distributing centre of Indian goods in Europe. Yet even 
before the canal was constructed, England was making more 
use of the Suez route to the East every year. In 1837 the 
overland oriental mail route through Egypt was instituted ; 
twenty years later a railway was constructed from Cairo 
through the desert, and steamers transhipped their passengers 
at Suez. After a while the canal proved more advan- 
tageous to Britain, as the leading maritime power of the world, 
than to any other country, for it shortened the passage to 
India from 11,379 to 7,268 miles, and in time brought Bombay 
within a fortnight's distance of London. And finally the 
far-seeing Disraeh took advantage of the practical bankruptcy 
of the Egyptian Khedive to purchase in 1875 for the British 
Government 176,602 shares in the Suez Canal Corporation 
for £3,976,582. The purchase was criticised by political 
opponents at home ; but it was triumphantly justified by 
time. It gave the leading control of the canal to the British, 
and proved an investment of continually increasing value. 

The Mediterranean Sea was no longer an inland lake when 
the Suez Canal connected it with an arm of the Indian Ocean ; 
it became the second stage on the new oriental highway. 
And by good fortune rather than through any prevision of 
the future, England had already acquired certain stations 
in the Mediterranean at various times, some of which had 
indeed proved useless and were lost or abandoned after a few 
years ; but others were permanently valuable in the highest 


The history of British policy in the Mediterranean furnishes 
some curious instances of vacillation and mistaken judgment ; 
it afiords others of absolute and admitted failure. But in 
any critical examination of that policy it must be remem- 
bered that the objects of our statesmen in those closed waters 
have varied from century to century, as the importance of 
the Mediterranean has itself varied from time to time in high 
poHtics or in commerce. In the sixteenth and seventeenth 
centuries the sole object of the British in the Mediterranean 
was trade ; their one unfortunate acquisition was held with 
the idea that it might prove of commercial value. That 
idea was erroneous, and Tangier was given up after a few 
years ; and the acquisitions of the next century, in Minorca, 
Gibraltar, and Corsica were made for strategic and diplomatic 
rather than mercantile purposes. The large British trade 
with the Levant was carried on independently of these pos- 
sessions ; the subsequent occupation of Malta was similarly 
due to poHtics and not to trade. In the middle of the nine- 
teenth century, however, the pohtical importance of the 
Mediterranean was enormously increased by the construc- 
tion of the Suez Canal : Gibraltar and Malta became of 
vastly greater value than they had ever been before ; and when 
Britain, in addition to holding those places, occupied Cyprus 
in 1878, and supported her presence by a large naval fleet 
and a garrison, she obtained a strong if not an unchallenged 
position in the waters which divide Europe from Africa. 

Our first possession in those parts was purely commercial. 
Enghsh traders had built up a considerable trafl&c under 
Elizabeth and her successors with the ports of Tangier, 
the Mediterranean ; but the earliest territorial 1662-84. 
acquisition of Britain brought nothing save disappointment 
and loss. On the marriage of Charles ii. to Catherine of 
Braganza, the city of Tangier was ceded to England by 
Portugal as part of her marriage dowry ; and high hopes 
were entertained that it would be of use in extending the 



Morocco trade, and perhaps eventually form the nucleus of 
a large territorial settlement. 

The illusion was quickly dispelled. When the Enghsh 
garrison arrived on 29th January 1662, it found Tangier ' very 
little better than a ruin of walls ' ; ^ and it was discovered 
that in evacuating the place the Portuguese had carried oS 
everything they could, even to ' the very floors, the windows, 
and the doors.' And almost immediately after its occupa- 
tion Tangier was besieged by the Moors, whose assaults were 

The place proved a very uncomfortable heritage. It is 
true that one of the Governors of Tangier was sanguine 
enough to expect that by ' the indefatigable pains and labour 
of our sojers and the extraordinary dihgence of our officers ' 
we should ' put a pair of spectacles on (the Moorish chief) 
Gayland's nose it would trouble him so as to obhge him at 
last to a peace.' But the British were badly worsted by the 
Moors in 1664, and other sieges followed in quick succession. 
The Dutch, too, blockaded Tangier by sea, and the expense 
of maintaining the garrison was heavy. 

A great mole was built to form a harbour, at the enormous 
outlay for that time of £265,108, 14s. 8|d., according to the 
official account ; and many fortifications were necessary to pro- 
tect Tangier by land. Had the place proved of any commercial 
value, it might have been worth keeping. But although it 
was proclaimed a free port, it was too insecurely held for trade 
to be carried on ; there were ' nothing but Moors and the four 
elements to be seen,' instead of merchants and cargoes, and 
in the opinion of the outspoken Pepys, the only use of Tangier 
was ' as a job to do a kindness to some lord.' 

Parhament now grew suspicious, fearing that the unfor- 
tunate settlement was being used as a nursery ' for papists ' 

' Although in that very yeai' a too optimistic oflBcial, one John Creed, 
wrote to Pepys, ' Blessed be God, the affaire of Tangier is in the best 
posture you can expect.' — Hist. MSS. Comm,, Hodgkin MSS., 1897. 


and ' desperate popish officers.' There was probably no truth 
in this conjecture, which would hardly have been made had 
not the anti-papal agitation of Titus Oates driven England 
to frenzy at this time. But it was soon decided to abandon 
a useless and costly possession. On 13th October 1683 the 
proclamation of withdrawal was read to the garrison in Tangier, 
and orders were given for the great mole and the fortifications 
to be demohshed. By March 1684 the place was deserted. 

This first possession of Britain on the north-west coast of 
Africa was hkewise the last. For the next twenty years we 
remained without any foothold on the Mediterranean ; but 
our fleets were constantly employed in those waters, and the 
necessity of estabhshing a port of call soon became evident. 
But of the two places that were occupied for this reason, the 
splendour of the one was not reahsed ; the conquest of the 
other was not permanent. 

Gibraltar fell to Britain in 1704 ; Minorca in 1708. The 
importance of the latter was well understood in the War of 
the Spanish Succession ; and the British Cabinet Minorca, 
instructed General Stanhope to attempt its capture. i708-82. 
' I still insist,' wrote the Lord Treasurer, ' that we cannot 
winter a squadron in the Mediterranean without having Port 
Mahon or Toulon.' Marlborough's opinion as the first soldier 
of the age was of more weight ; and he also held the same 
language in private letters. The British force landed on 
14th September 1708, and a fortnight later Minorca surren- 
dered. Stanhope reported his success to London, giving it 
as his ' humble opinion that England ought never to part 
with this island : which will give the law to the Mediterranean 
both in time of war and peace. ... I cannot but hope that 
we shall think of preserving Port Mahon, and indeed the whole 
of the island.' After some months of negotiation with the 
Austrian Court his wish was realised ; it was secured under 
certain conditions, and at the Treaty of Utrecht ceded 


During the next forty years of peace, Minorca remained 
quietly in Britisli possession, a thorn in the side of France 
and Spain. As a purely military station, its history offers 
nothing of interest. Its importance seems to have been 
exaggerated by the statesmen of the age, as that of Gibraltar 
was depreciated ; but under Walpole and his successors the 
garrison was neglected, and the Governor apparently spent 
most of his time in England. In these circumstances, when 
the Seven Years' War broke out in 1756, the French antici- 
pated and found an easy conquest. The deputy-governor 
was disabled by old age and infirmities, and had to issue 
most of his orders from a sick-bed ; the chief engineer was 
in the same predicament ; all the colonels were absent. The 
total garrison was 2800 men, but the fleet that was sent to 
assist in the defence was under the command of Admiral 
Byng. After an indecisive action, he returned to Gibraltar, 
and Minorca fell. The grief and rage at home were intense, 
but nothing could be done. However, at the Peace of Paris 
in 1763, it was exchanged for Belleisle. 

Still it was an object of envy by France. When war 
again began, it was immediately attacked in 1781, and 
after a prolonged and gallant defence surrendered the next 
year. Thus was Port Mahon, ' the finest port in the Medi- 
terranean," finally lost ; for at the Peace of Versailles it was 
not restored. Geographically and nationally it belonged to 
Spain : and we can see it now under the red and yellow 
flag without the least regret. The subsequent acquisition 
of Malta more than compensated for its loss. 

With Gibraltar the case was different. The Pillars of 
Hercules, the old boundary of the world, fell in 1704 to the 
Gibraltar, squadron with which Sir George Rooke had un- 
1704. successfully attacked Barcelona. The Spaniards 

had left less than a hundred soldiers in the garrison, and 
had neglected to fortify it. Eighteen hundred men under 
the Prince of Darmstadt were landed on the sandy stretch 


which connects Gibraltar with the mainland. They might 
have experienced considerable resistance ; but the sentinels 
had gone to church instead of on duty. While they were 
praying for the destruction of the heretics, the heretics 
themselves scaled and stormed the Rock ; and the too 
fervent piety of the Spaniards was only rewarded by a forced 
capitulation. Against the wishes of the Prince, Rooke 
hoisted the English flag, which, through the vicissitudes 
of more than two centuries, has never been hauled down. 

Keenly as the French felt the loss of Calais, keenly as we 
should have felt the loss of Dover, Spain felt the loss of 
Gibraltar more keenly still. Part of the sacred land, whose 
proud boast was that it contained no unbeliever, was in 
the hands of the infidels. The same infidels, an upstart 
race from the north, had scattered the invincible Armada. 
The same infidels had attacked Spain east and west, north 
and south, at home and abroad, in port and on the high 
seas. The insult was one to be wiped out by blood alone. 

The fortress was attacked next year by land and water ; 
but it had other defenders then, whose religious festivals did 
not disorganise defence ; and after an inefiectual siege, the 
Rock was left to its conquerors. In 1727 another attempt 
was made. The Count of Las Torres bragged that in six 
weeks he would plant his flag there, and drive the heretics 
into the sea. But by now Gibraltar was well fortified : six 
warships were in attendance ; it could not be blockaded, 
and fresh provisions arrived constantly from Tangier and 
Tetuan. After four months, the second siege was rehn- 

The third, final, and most important investment began in 
1779. The blockade lasted for more than three years. The 
attack was conducted by the allied armies and fleets of 
France and Spain. At one time 33,000 men and 170 heavy 
pieces of artillery were in use against it. In one period of 
six weeks, over 56,000 shot and 20,000 shells were fired 


upon it. Floating batteries were used in the bombard- 
ment. Princes of the royal house of France joined the 

The garrison were reduced to eat thistles, dandehons, 
and wild leeks. The Governor lived entirely on vegetables. 
Scurvy broke out. But still the defenders held out, at one 
time making a successful sortie, at another receiving relief 
from the English fleet, at another silencing a bombardment 
with a counter-demonstration. At length, in February 1783, 
the news of the Treaty of Versailles arrived, and the siege 
was perforce at an end. 

From that day Gibraltar has never been menaced. By 
common consent it has been left to its masters, the key of 
the Mediterranean, the first gate on the British highway to 
the East. Were this a military history, an account of the 
fortifications that honeycomb the majestic pile, a description 
of the cannon that frown over the stormy Straits, would be 
in place. But except in a technical work, such details have 
no interest ; and we may confine ourselves to noticing the 
varjdng poHtical and military importance of Gibraltar. 

The Ne Plus Ultra of Charles v., the Mountain and the 
Key as its own emblem declares, was at first better appre- 
ciated in Spain than in England. On the opposite side of 
the Straits were the Mohammedan powers that threatened 
the most CathoHc country in Europe. Against these 
Gibraltar was a perpetual bulwark. To England, on the 
other hand, it had at the time no such value. Minorca was 
considered a jewel of the first water, Gibraltar an expensive 
dependency. In 1718 Stanhope thought of yielding it. 
' Gibraltar is of no great importance,' he wrote ; and again 
in 1720 he suggested that in the event of Spain offering an 
equivalent advantage the loss of the fortress would not be 
regrettable. Florida or the eastern part of Hispaniola were 
spoken of as exchanges. The whole question was referred 
by both sides to the Congress of Cambray in the same year. 


Even Pitt in 1757 offered the Court of Madrid that if they 
would assist England to recover IMinorca from France and 
take part in the war as allies, he would yield Gibraltar. 
Fortunately nothing came of these overtures. 

But it must not be too hastily assumed that the EngUsh 
statesmen of that day were iU-advised in their efforts to get 
rid of the Rock. It was kept up at considerable expense 
at a time when expenditure was constantly increasing. The 
Mediterranean had declined in importance till it had become 
little more than a lake. England had no great interests 
there. Nobody could foresee that the main route to the East 
Indies a hundred years later would lie by way of Gibraltar 
and Suez. Even so, the Orient of the eighteenth century 
had not the same meaning for Britain that it has now. 
Robert Walpole was far from the days of Disraeli and 
declarations that England was an Asiatic power. 

At the present time everything is different. Our interests 
in the East have grown until it is of the first importance to 
secure the Hne of communication. Those travellers who 
pass Gibraltar now on their way to Australia, or India and 
the Far East, recognise how vital to the empire is the one 
British possession on the European mainland ; and how 
correct is the view which regards it as the first Hnk in that 
great chain of imperial defence which is stretched the whole 
length of the ocean highway. 

The second is Malta. Captured in 1800 without a thought 
of its ultimate use, it was taken from Napoleon by a com- 
bined army of Maltese, NeapoHtans, and Enghsh. 
Held by Britain temporarily after the peace of 
1802, it was to be given up as soon as a guarantee was forth- 
coming from France that Napoleon would not again seize it. 
Meanwhile war broke out, and at the general peace of 1815 
it was ceded absolutely to England. 

Malta with its two dependent islands was not, and has 
not been, an easy place to govern. To us its chief, indeed 


its only use, was as a fortress in the central Mediterranean. 
From that point of view it was of tremendous importance, 
which has increased since the cutting of the Suez Canal : but 
in a mihtary estabhshment civihans are unnecessary, and there 
happened to be a large population already in Malta, with 
patriotic traditions and remembrances of its own. We 
started, indeed, with public opinion in our favour, after the 
usurpation by Napoleon had put an end to the historic 
order of knights associated with the island for centuries ; 
a monument erected voluntarily by the Maltese attests the 
welcome they gave us. 

But a mixed race is always difficult to rule ; and the Maltese 
are mixed as are few other people in the world. Composed 
of Itahans and Sicihans, with a strong addition of Arabic, 
a touch of the Greek, possibly a trace of the Egyptian and 
northern African nations, with a Spanish strain and perhaps 
a very slight French tinge, the Maltese are the outcome of 
the continual intermarriage of every race surrounding the 
Mediterranean. The British tendency in governing the 
place was naturally to emphasise the military element ; 
and it was therefore not long before serious discontent 
appeared. A series of reforms carried out through a number 
of years alleviated the situation. The censorship of the 
press was abohshed in 1836 : the beginnings of repre- 
sentative government were granted in 1849, and it was 
agreed that the native laws should be administered by 
native judges. 

Other measures followed ; but within the last few years 
there has been more than one agitation. That these 
have been well founded seems to be indicated by the fact 
that the British Government has generally given way. Malta 
is now of considerable commercial importance, and its harbour 
of Valetta is not only the headquarters of the British navy 
in the Mediterranean, but hkewise a port of call for trading 


The two neighbouring islands of Gozo and Comino are 
also British territory, under the same rule as Malta : that 
is to say, a crown colony, administered by the General in 
command of the garrison, assisted by an executive council 
and a council of government. 

The almost forgotten British occupation of the Ionian 
Islands possesses a pecuhar interest, in that it furnishes one 
of the exceedingly rare instances in which we The Ionian 
have given up a place at the wish of the inhabitants ^^^®^' i8i4-64. 
without any other reason than the expression of that wish. 
Taken over as a protectorate in 1814, this group of islands 
was administered by England for exactly half a century. 
They were well governed, and their prosperity increased 
almost every year. But when we first occupied the Ionian 
Isles, Greece was still a province of Turkey ; within a few 
years afterwards that country had recovered its historic 
freedom. The noble desire for national unity was fermenting 
in the popular mind ; and the Ionian islanders naturally 
desired to share the fortunes of their mother country rather 
than continue under foreign rule. W. E. Gladstone went 
out as commissioner to investigate the situation, and as a 
result of his recommendations the islands were ceded freely 
to the kingdom of Greece in 1864. The decision excited 
some criticism, but there can be Httle doubt that it was 
justified in every way. 

Two other islands in the Mediterranean were the occasion 
of British intervention or occupation during the long wars. 
An attempt was made to assuage the troubles Corsica, 1794. 
of Sicily in 1812 by granting its people a consti- siciiy, 1812. 
tution under the protection of England ; but that inestim- 
able boon was received with profound indifference, and both 
the constitution and the protection of England were with- 
drawn when experience showed that neither was appreciated. 
The Sicilians had indeed suffered many things imder many 
rulers ; but Britain was the wrong doctor to cure the chrom'c 


political maladies of that island, and the prescription which 
she administered proved the wrong remedy. 

Our experience in Corsica was equally unfortunate. In 
the stormy eighteenth-century pohtics of that island, one 
party declared for England and another for France ; and 
when the former faction gained the upper hand, George iii. 
was acknowledged as king on 17th June 1794. The place was 
ruled for a time by the first Earl of Minto, who in later years 
became Governor-General of India ; but the partisans of 
France made headway, and the ungrateful islanders, who 
were as remiss as the Sicihans in their appreciation of the 
blessings of the constitution which was given them, revolted 
and declared in favour of the Gallic Republic. The British 
shortly afterwards abandoned the island, and the Corsicans 
appear to have watched their departure with easy equanimity. 

Of more significance than these petty episodes was the 

British occupation of Cyprus ; ^ but that occupation, while 

not without interest in the annals of the ocean 

' highway of Britain, was but an incident, a recent 

and relatively unimportant incident, in the long and varied 

history of the island. Originally a Greek colony, Cyprus has 

^ For Cyprus, the Yearly Handbook of Cyj)rus ; Cyprus as I saw It in 
1879, by Sir S. ]3aker ; Stewart, My Experience of the Island of Cyprus; 
Fyler's Development of Cyprus, a very useful work ; and George Chacalli, 
Cyprus Under British Rule (printed at Nicosia), expressing the extreme 
Cypriot view. 

For the other possessions, Captain Hunter's Account of the British 
Settlement of Aden, a standard work ; for Perim, The British Outpost of 
Perim, in the Records of the Bombay Government, No. 149. There is an 
article on Socotra in the Nineteenth Century, June 1897, by Theodore 
Bent ; see also the Life and Letters of St. Fraiicis Xavier, by H. J. 
Coleridge, S.J., and a pamphlet by Phil Robinson, dated 1878. The 
smaller islands are mentioned in the Colonial Office List and the valuable 
yearly Official Reports. For the Maldives, see a paper by H. C. Bell, 
written for the Indian Government in 1881, and the Voyage of Francis 
Pyrard, published by the Hakluyt Society ; for the Andaman Islands, 
Lieutenant C. H. Turner's Notes on the Andaman Islands (Rangun, 
1897), and Colonel R. C. Temple on the Penal System, in the Journal 
of the Society of Arts, 24th February 1899. For the Keeling Islands, 
Keller's book on the Islands of the Indian Oceaw, and Darwin's Voyage 
of H. M.S. Beagle. 


passed from age to age to one nationality after another, its 
strategic position always rendering it valuable to the state 
that holds the command of the eastern Mediterranean, It 
was a province of the Roman and Byzantine Empires ; 
it was held by Crusaders and Knights Templars as a 
vantage ground from which to conquer Jerusalem ; by 
Venetians and Genoese as a base for trade ; and finally 
it fell to the Turks when the Ottoman Empire was founded. 

The first appearance of the Enghsh in Cyprus as a sove- 
reign power was a matter of a few days only. In the year 
1191 the island was seized by Richard i., as compensation 
for an injury to that impetuous prince ; and there he married 
his consort Berengaria. But the crusades claimed him in 
Palestine ; and, wearied of a possession that was both use- 
less and embarrassing, he parted with Cyprus to the 

After many vicissitudes and misfortunes, the island again 
passed to Britain in virtue of a convention with Turkey in 
1878. It was to be occupied and administered by the British 
so long as Russia maintained her conquests in Armenia — 
conquests that are now apparently permanent. But Cyprus 
nominally remained a Turkish possession, and a yearly tribute 
was to be paid by the island to the Ottoman Empire. 

On 12th July 1878, the British flag was hoisted on the ram- 
parts of the capital city of Nicosia, amid manifestations of 
joy from the Greek population ; and many hopes were formed, 
both by the British from their new territory, and by the 
Cypriots from their new masters. Something of the halo of 
romance, with which the poets of Greece had surrounded 
the island, still hngered before Enghsh eyes ; the land of 
flowers, the chosen abode of the goddess of love, might yet 
prove an acquisition of good omen to the great modern empire 
of Britain. 

But misfortunes dogged Cyprus almost from the first. The 
British control over Egypt soon rendered the island of small 


importance. The yearly tribute of £81,752, which was pay- 
able to Turkey, was a heavy tax which Cyprus could not 
always meet. The British Treasury had often to come to 
its aid ; and in twenty years more than half a miUion sterUng 
was contributed from this source. And the uncertainty of 
the tenure by which the island was held made capitahsts 
hesitate before embarking money on schemes for its develop- 
ment. It was rumoured that Cyprus was to be given back 
to Turkey ; an agitation sprang up among the Cypriot Greeks 
for its cession to Greece, and some persons in England favoured 
the idea.i It was, indeed, emphatically stated by succes- 
sive British Governments that there was no intention whatever 
of abandoning the island ; but one of the many disadvan- 
tages of the fluctuating foreign policy of the time lay in the 
fact that a new administration was not bound by the declara- 
tions of its predecessors. The uncertainty continued, and 
the island languished. 

Nevertheless, although Chamberlain admitted when 
Colonial Secretary that England had not done all she might 
for Cyprus,^ many real improvements were in fact effected. 
The island suffered alternately from floods and droughts ; 
and in 1897 it was decided to spend £60,000 on irrigation and 
reservoirs. Plagues of locusts infested the land, and often 
destroyed every scrap of vegetation and even human life,^ 
and drastic steps were taken to stamp out the pest. A locust 
tax was imposed, and rewards were offered for the destruc- 
tion of the insects ; in 1881 over 1300 tons of eggs were 
destroyed, and two years later the almost incredible number 

1 A meeting was held at the St. James's Hall in London in 1897 in 
support of the cession of Cyprus to Greece. 

- But in the parliamentary debate on 8th August 1898, he stated that 
' he would not ask the House to be liberal to Cyprus if he thought it were 
not a good investment.' A few years later, however, the London Globe 
still spoke of CyjDrus as a derelict dependency. 

^ A fifteenth-century priest was suffocated by the very locusts he was 
cursing. I leave it to the learned in such matters to determine whether 
the potency of the curses, or the orthodoxy of the locusts was at fault. 


of 200,000 million live locusts were captured. In due course 
these measures proved effectual. 

All the roads of the colony as well as the railways were 
of British construction. No printing press had existed in 
1878 ; within thirty years one Turkish and ten Greek news- 
papers were published. The few schools were enlarged and 
improved ; and at the beginning of the twentieth century 
there were 392 Christian and 160 Moslem primary schools 
in the island. And the old corrupt law courts were reformed, 
and some measure of self-government introduced. But 
many of the Greeks of the islands were and are discontented, 
even with the improved condition of the administration ; 
and the British in like manner have been somewhat dis- 
appointed with their Hmited success. 

If the growing British control over Egypt was a misfortune 
to Cyprus, our dominance of the north-east African coast 
strengthened the ocean highway of empire ; and The Red 
the southern entrance of the Red Sea was already ^^*- 
secured by the possession of a second Gibraltar. The great 
Portuguese conqueror, Albuquerque, declared that four places 
were essential to the nation which held dominion in the Orient, 
— Aden, Ormuz, Diu, and Goa. The first of these — which 
the Portuguese themselves held but for four years, from 1547 
to 1551 — though situated at the far end of a vast desert 
peninsula, though arid and indeed almost rainless, had neces- 
sarily been an important centre of commerce since traffic first 
existed between Europe and Asia. To Aden came vessels 
from Suez, from the East African coast, from Persia, India, 
and, according to Hakluyt, even from China. Aden was 
known, at least by name, to the Greeks, perhaps also to the 
Jews ; a vague but not impossible tradition declares that it 
was once occupied by the Romans. It was visited by Marco 
Polo ; and it had been admired by the Bolognese traveller, 
Ludovico di Varthema, who declared it ' the strongest city 
that was ever seen on level ground.' But Aden lost its old 


importance when Indo-European trade deserted it for the 
new South African route, and by the end of the eighteenth 
century the place was in a half-ruined condition. 

But the Enghsh had already had deaHngs with the sultans 

who controlled Aden. One of the first voyages of the East 

India Company, in 1609, was to Aden ; in 1618 

Aden 1839. jt ./ ' ' ' 

a trading station was estabKshed at Mocha. But 

no poUtical influence was secured, or even perhaps desired, 
in Arabia, until the year 1802 when, under Wellesley's energetic 
rule in India, a treaty was made with the Sultan of Aden. 
A coahng depot was projected there in 1827, but the idea 
was abandoned ; eleven years later, however, when some 
shipwrecked British sailors were insulted and outraged by 
the Sultan, he was forced to sell his territory in compensa- 
tion to the Enghsh. The wretched chief wished to retain 
his authority over his old subjects after the cession ; but this 
was refused, and Aden was occupied by the British on 16th 
January 1839. 

The place was declared a free port in 1850, and its trade 
quickly revived, both on that account and by reason of the 
opening of the Suez Canal. The population, which had been 
but 6000 in 1839, rose steadily until in 1901 it was 43,974 ; 
and fresh territory became necessary to provide for the motley 
Adenese population of Arabs, SomaUs, and Jews. In 1868, 
Little Aden, the western arm of the harbour, was purchased 
with the island of Sirah ; fourteen years later an inland tract 
of country was bought, which gave water and salt pits to the 
place ; and in 1888 a third extension was made. By this 
time the original small protectorate was enlarged to sixty- 
six square miles ; and the old town, which had been confined 
to the crater of an extinct volcano, had become a coaUng 
station, a garrison, and a fortress of first-rate importance. 

British Somahland, which lies on the African coast over 
against Aden, on the other side of the Straits of Bab-el-Mandeb, 
those sorrowful waters which the Arabs know as the Gate of 


Tears, belongs to the history of the British in Africa rather 
than the annals of the ocean highway beside which it hes ; 
but the dependencies of Perim, Socotra, and the petty Kuria 
Maria Islands all owe such importance as they may possess 
to their position on the direct road to the Orient, 

The small isle of Perim, at the entrance of the Red Sea, is 
a bare dry rock some five miles square, on whose low hills 
grows a species of coarse grass which afiords sustenance only 
to a few miserable goats. But strategically the place is im- 
portant, and for that reason it was occupied by the British 
during a few months in 1799, while Napoleon was threaten- 
ing India from Egypt. Abandoned shortly afterwards, it 
was again taken in 1857. 

A hghthouse was erected, and in time Perim became a 
cable station and coaling depot. It now possesses a fortress, 
and is garrisoned by a small company of Indian infantry. 
But Hfe on so confined and bare a spot, where all suppHes 
must be imported, and water is only obtainable from con- 
densers, is extremely tedious ; and the troops are, if possible, 
relieved every few months. 

Perim is governed from Aden ; the next landmarks on 
the ocean highway, Socotra and its dependencies of Abdal 
Kute and Bromers, are administered from Bombay. 

The island of Socotra, which was known to the Greeks as 
Dioscorides — the legend of an ancient Greek colony there 
survived for centuries among Arab geographers — socotra, 
was imagined by them to be an island abode of i^^^- 
bhss. A very difierent account was given by St. Francis 
Xavier, the great evangelist who visited Socotra in 1542, 
thirty-six years after its discovery by Tristan da Cunha. 
' A wild country," he wrote, ' with no produce, no corn, no 
rice, no millet, no wine, no fruit; in short, altogether sterile 
and arid, except that it has plenty of dates, and also 
abounds in cattle. The island is exposed to great heat 
from the sun ; the people are Christians in name rather 


than in reality, wonderfully ignorant and rude ; they can- 
not read or write.' The description was not inaccurate ; 
but the Nestorian Christianity of the inhabitants, a mixed 
breed of Arabs, Somahs, and a few Europeans, gave 
way later before Islam or paganism. Socotra became a 
favourite station of corsairs and pirates ; and, to check their 
depredations, British Indian troops occupied the place for 
a few months in 1835, but eventually withdrew. In 1876, 
however, the Sultan of Kishn, the owner of the island, agreed 
not to permit any foreign power to interfere in the afiairs 
of the island ; ten years later it was placed under British 

The Kuria Maria Islets, which he ofi the south coast of 
Arabia, were discovered in 1503 by the Portuguese. Sterile 
and bare as the neighbouring mainland, their sole product 
is guano ; but they were ceded to Britain in 1854 by the 
Sultan of Muscat for the purpose of landing the Red Sea cable. 
They still remain integral but insignificant portions of the 

The long chain of coral islands known as the Maldives, 
where endless palms fringe endless lagoons, has passed 
Maldives from one European nation to another as pohtical 
etc., 1795. power waxed or waned in the Orient. Successively 
Portuguese, French, and Dutch possessions, they fell with 
Ceylon to the British in 1795. But the principle of non- 
intervention in the local affairs of the archipelago has been 
adopted. A petty sultan still reigns over twelve thousand 
petty isles, and Male remains the seat of government ; an 
annual tribute is paid to the authorities in Ceylon ; and that 
country furnishes a market for the products of the Maldives. 
The natives of the islands, who are followers of Islam, are 
celebrated for the kindness with which they succour the 
shipwrecked strangers who are cast upon their dangerous 
coasts from time to time. 

The Laccadive Isles differ from the Maldives, to the north 


of which they lie, in being less productive. The rehgion 
and character of the natives is similar, but they are governed 
from Madras. 

On the other side of India lie the Andaman Isles, to which 
are attached Cocos. Consisting of four large and many 
smaller volcanic groups, their total area is some 2700 square 
miles, most of which is mountainous and covered with dense 
tropical vegetation. Hot, damp, and malarious, the 
Andamans have the reputation of being extraordinarily 
unhealthy ; but the death-rate of the Indians transported 
thither is not more than 30' 7 per thousand, while the con- 
dition of the British troops is better than at Rangun. 

The islands were taken in 1789 by the East India Company, 
and a settlement was estabhshed at Port Blair, then called 
Port CornwalHs. Three years later this was abandoned as 
too unhealthy ; but in 1849 a Captain Shaw attempted to 
found a colony on Great Coco. Again the climate proved 
deadly ; a third of his people died ; those who survived 
suffered terrible hardships. In 1857, however, the Andamans 
were occupied by the Indian Government as a penal station ; 
Indian natives convicted of grave crimes, and sentenced to 
long terms of imprisonment, were sent thither ; and the 
place has ever since been used for that purpose. Some ten 
thousand convicts are detained there, guarded by British and 
natives troops and pohce. The discipline is severe and 
possibly reformative ; after some years the offender is per- 
mitted a modified freedom, and is henceforth known as a 
' self-supporter ' ; should he not abuse his privileges, he is 
allowed in his declining years to return to his own country.^ 

The more southerly Nicobar Islands, which are divided into 
two groups, the Great and Little, are administered by the 
Chief Commissioner of the Andamans. 

1 The Andaman aborigines, an inoffensive but suspicious people, have 
the distinction of being probably the most intensely black race in the 
world. (Portman.) 



The group of islets known as Keeling, which lie in the 
Indian Ocean south of Sumatra, and whose whole surface is 

line ^^* eight miles square, were discovered, accord- 
islands, ing to Purchas, by the English mariner William 
^^^^' KeeHng, on his way home from the Moluccas in 

1609. Though fertile and healthy, they remained unpeopled 
until 1823, when an Englishman of dubious or eccentric 
character named Hare settled on one of the group with 
a few Malay slaves, who formed the harem and the court 
of this imitation oriental despot. Hare's project failed ; but 
the old Scottish family of Clunies-Ross occupied another 
of the KeeHng Isles about this time ; and since then, despite 
the terrific tropical storms which often threaten to swallow 
these petty intruders on the vast expanse of waters, the 
lonely group has never been uninhabited. 

In view of their comparative proximity to the Dutch 
colony of Sumatra, the Dutch at one time advanced a 
tentative claim to their possession ; but the islands were 
formally annexed by Britain in 1856. The Ross family, 
however, continues to hold patriarchal sway in local affairs ; 
and neither poUce nor soldiers are required to maintain their 
authority. Crime is rare, and money does not exist in this 
primitive but happy community ; the only currency that is 
known are the sheepskin notes issued by the Rosses.^ 

By far the most noteworthy event in the insignificant 
Keeling annals was the visit of Charles Darwin in 1836. He 
found the islands ' not very prosperous, and with rather a 
desolate aspect, no gardens to show signs of care and culti- 
vation.' But these typical lagoon atolls furnished him with 
much valuable scientific information, which bore fruit in 
his work, Geological Observations on Coral Reefs. 

An attempt was made to colonise Christmas Island, which 

^ An obituary notice of George Clunies-Ross, and a good account of 
the colonisation of these islands, appeared in the London Times on 8th 
July 1910. 


was first visited by Dampier two centuries before, from the 
Keelings. It was eventually occupied by the British in 
1888 ; twelve miles long and five broad, it is thickly wooded, 
and possesses valuable deposits of phosphate of lime. 

Such are the various stations which mark the ocean high- 
way to the East, from Gibraltar to India and Australia. Indi- 
vidually they are often insignificant, perhaps even worthless ; 
collectively they form an important and valuable chain. 

But the great wars which saw the acquisition of these 
landmarks on the ocean road as well as the greater provinces 
of empire, saw also the capture of other more isolated spots, 
whose history has little connection with that of Britain or any 
of her colonies. 

Such, for example, was the barren rock of Heligoland, 
or Holy Island : three-quarters of a mile in extent, but 
gradually giving way before the action of the Heligoland, 
waves, and with a population of two thousand 1807-90. 
fishermen. At present a summer resort of German tourists, 
it belonged to Denmark till 1807, and was used both before 
and from that time, when it fell into the hands of England, 
as a base for smuggling. At the peace of 1815 it was secured 
to Britain ; but its history is almost a blank. The old 
Frisian constitution to which its inhabitants had been accus- 
tomed was preserved till 1864, when another of British origin 
took its place. Four years later this was withdrawn, and all 
authority was vested in the Governor. Nothing more of 
interest marked the eighty-three years during which it 
was part of the British Empire, and it was exchanged with 
Germany in 1890 for some concessions in Africa. From the 
Enghsh point of view, Heligoland was useless in peace, and 
dangerous in war ; from the German, its acquisition seemed 
at the time a satisfactory step forward in the linking-up of 
the great modern Teutonic Empire, which had been so long 
divided into petty conflicting states, but which from the 
day of Rossbach has been steadily marching forward to a 


federation of all tlie Grerman settlements in Europe, and 
which in our time lacks only the Austrian provinces and 
the Baltic colonies in Russia to mark the completion of the 
pan-German imperial dream of which Fichte was the first 
and the most eloquent exponent. 

Another island acquired in the Napoleonic wars was 
Ascension, a volcanic rock thirty-four miles square in the 
Ascension, South Atlantic Ocean, which had been discovered 
1815. \)j the Portuguese in 1501. At first named 

Conception from being found on Lady Day, it was later 
called Ascension by a second visitor who arrived at the 
island on that festival in 1503. Nominally a possession of 
Portugal, it was a convenient place at which passing ships 
could leave any malefactors they might have on board ; but 
no real colony could be estabhshed where only ferns and 
grasses grew. In the eighteenth century turtle fishing was 
carried on there, and it was occupied by the British in 1815. 
A settlement was made at the one place which afforded 
anchorage, and the little town which rose here was officially 
named Georgetown in 1830. Since then it has been used as 
an admiralty station, and Darwin compared it to 'a huge 
ship kept in first-rate order.' On a small scale, the same 
pohcy which has been so successful in the greater colonies was 
followed at Ascension ; roads were made, plants and shrubs 
were introduced, and the none too abundant supply of water 
collected and preserved. At Georgetown, a church, a 
hospital, and barracks now exist : and the population 
numbers some 160 settlers and a garrison. If it cannot be 
said that the island is of much value to the empire, at least 
it might be a source of danger in foreign hands. 

We next come to almost the most insignificant inhabited 
spot in the whole British Empire — Tristan da Cunha, in 
Tristan da comparison with which Ascension seems a powerful 
Cunha, 1816. state. The first European to see this island of 
sixteen square miles, whose sole products were stunted trees, 


brushwood, ferns, and coarse grass, was Albuquerque ; and 
to him, wearied by a long sea voyage, it appeared a ' land 
very extensive and very beautiful.' That he was mistaken 
may be shown from the fact that, although Dutch and 
French vessels called there from time to time, and the Enghsh 
East India Company thought of using it as a port of call 
for their vessels, the earhest settlers were three Americans 
in 1810. Annexed by England in 1816, a garrison was kept 
there for a few months only ; but when this was withdrawn, 
a corporal, his wife, two children, and two other single men 
remained. Such was the beginning of the colony, which 
was increased later by some stray arrivals. 

Its petty annals have not been without vicissitudes; Many 
of the younger men have emigrated to South Africa, or taken 
to the sea ; and owing to this cause the population has fluctu- 
ated from 109 in 1880, to 52 in 1893 ; ten years later it had 
again risen to 75. All hve in one township, which is called 
Edinburgh, on account of a visit paid by the Duke of that 
name in 1857 : and a hard, perhaps inadequate, livehhood 
is gained by breeding cattle, sheep, and donkeys. But in 
spite of the rough conditions which surround their existence 
the inhabitants have on several occasions refused the ofEer 
of the Imperial Government to transport them elsewhere. 

The system of rule is patriarchal, and Tristan da Cunha 
is directly under the control of England ; periodical visits 
are made by vessels of the navy. These, with the calls of 
occasional whaling ships, are the only means of coromunica- 
tion with the outside world. The two neighbouring islands, 
named Nightingale and Inaccessible, are uninhabited.^ 

More important in point of size and population are the 
Falkland Islands. Discovered on 14th August 1592 by John 
Davis, called Hawkins' Maiden Land by Hawkins two years 

* The fullest account of life on this island is contained in a diary of 
Three Years in Tristan da Cunha, published in 1910 by Mrs. K. M. 


later in honour of himself and Queen Elizabeth, they were 
given their present name in 1670 : but nobody thought 
Falkland ^^ ^ Settlement there until Anson, in the 
Islands, account of his voyage round the world, published 
in 1748, remarked on the convenience of possess- 
ing a station and port of call in the southern Atlantic. The 
project was abandoned on the urgent representations of 
Spain ; and the French, with some of their people who had 
left Canada after the British conquest, founded the first 
Falkland colony in 1764. They were soon expelled by the 
Spaniards ; but the English arrived the next year. After 
five years they also were driven out : and it was through 
this high-handed action on the part of Spain that war was 
threatened from London. In the end the British Grovernment 
backed down ; and the whole afiair would have long been 
forgotten, were it not that Samuel Johnson wrote a pamphlet 
in their defence, while Junius attacked them. 

The islands caused yet another international dispute 
before they came finally into British hands. In 1820 they 
were taken by the republic of Buenos Ayres ; but eleven 
years afterwards the settlement was destroyed by the United 
States as a measure of reprisal for some wrong done. In 
1832 they were again taken by England, and used by the 
Admiralty, although there was some intention of converting 
them eventually into a penal settlement, in accordance with 
the settled policy then pursued at Downing Street, which 
held that the first use to which every new colony should be 
put was as a dumping ground for convicts. From this fate 
they were saved ; in 1843 a civil government was instituted ; 
and since then the Falkland Isles have been a crown colony, 
with a Governor, and Executive and Legislative Councils : 
surely a sufficient apparatus of rule for a country whose capital 
of Stanley has only some nine hundred inhabitants, and 
whose population altogether numbers little more than two 
thousand. In 1851 the Falkland Islands Company was 


formed, in whose hands nearly all the trade of the place has 
been concentrated ; the chief settlers are Scotsmen, who by 
continuous hard work make a Hving in islands described by 
Darwin as ' undulating with a desolate and wretched aspect,' 
and by another visitor in the Challetiger as ' a treeless expanse 
of moorland and bog and bare and barren rock/ 

Nearly all the British colonies, however small, reproduce 
in essentials the constitution of the mother country ; in 
many cases they furnish a microcosm of the south 
empire by administering protectorates of their own. Georgia, 
The Australian Commonwealth is responsible for 
various groups in the Pacific ; New Zealand possesses a 
whole cluster of islands ; Tristan da Cunha guards its 
two neighbours ; and the Governor of the Falkland Islands 
is in Uke manner Governor of South Georgia, an uninhabited 
tract of land in the Antarctic. First seen by the French 
voyager La Roche in 1675, it was visited a century later 
by Captain Cook, whose account of it was graphic but un- 
inviting : ' The wild rocks raised their lofty summits till 
they were lost in the clouds, and the valleys lay covered with 
everlasting snow. Not a tree was to be seen, nor a shrub 
even big enough to make a toothpick.' 

Of equal importance is another derehct of empire, Gough 
Island, which was probably discovered by the Spaniard Diego 
Alvarez, but visited by Captain Gough in 1731, QQ^gj^ 
and claimed by him for England. Still considered island, 
as a British possession, it is enough to say that 
no ship ever touches there, and that nobody has ever lived, 
or seems likely to live on its desolate shores. 




With the escape of Napoleon from Elba in 1815 began the 
last act in the great world-drama which gave to France the 
Waterloo, troubled possession of Europe for a decade, and 
1815. to Britain the undisputed possession of the outer 

world for a century. Napoleon reckoned, and he reckoned 
justly, on the respect and admiration, if not love, which 
France bore him. He knew that the king who had been 
set up in his place was but a puppet of the diplomats. He 
knew that the army — his army — was discontented and 
mutinous. He believed that they longed again for the 
victories to which he had led them ; that they preferred 
even defeat under him to peace under a Bourbon. And in 
France, the army often decides for the nation. Napoleon 
landed in Provence and marched without opposition to 
Paris. Louis xviii. fled at once, and Europe prepared to 
renew the conflict. 

But the close of the career that had electrified the world 
was at hand. The revived empire lasted for a hundred 
days : and then in the carnage of Waterloo it went down 
for ever. The man who had risen from a humble family in 
Corsica to be the master of a continent fell before the coahtion 
his vast schemes had raised. 

The place destined for Napoleon's last years in captivity 
was one of the most lonely islands of the world — one of 
St. Helena, those barren rocks that a visitor from another 
1^51- planet might think even our combative humanity 

would have left in peace. But small, barren, and unattractive 
as it was, St. Helena already had its history as the outpost 
of rival empires. Discovered on 21st May 1502 by the 
Portuguese, it had been used by them as a port of call on the 


way from the Indies. For many years they were the only 
visitors, but when the Enghsh traffic to the Orient began 
to grow it was seized by our East India Company in 165L 
James Fort, or Jamestown as it has since been called, was 
erected there, being named in honour of the Duke of York. 
In 1665, and again in 1673, the Dutch took St. Helena, but 
in each case they were driven out after a few months, and 
from that time our possession of it has been undisturbed. 

With the cessation of attacks by foreign traders its history 
ceased to present anything of interest. There were the usual 
quarrels between the governor and the chaplain, the usual 
semi-mutinies among the garrison, which invariably appear 
in colonies where space is Umited and time hangs heavy. 
The population consisted of employees of the East India 
Company, casual settlers, and negro slaves : in 1723 St. 
Helena contained 500 whites and 610 blacks, a number which 
increased steadily but not rapidly, and generally in the 
same proportion of colour. In subsequent generations the 
prevalent custom of intermarriage produced a mixed class 
of people, who remain in the island to this day. 

It was to this lonely spot which, in Darwin's words, rises 
abruptly ' Hke a huge black castle from the ocean,' that 
Napoleon was banished, to eat out his heart in captivity, 
vexed by the unworthy spite of his jailor, Sir Hudson Lowe. 
' C'est un sot personnage que celui d'un roi exile et vagabond,' 
he had written to his brother in the days when Europe lay 
at his feet : and now that in less than twenty years his 
ambition had carried him from simple republican general to 
Emperor of the West, conqueror of Egypt and Palestine, 
victor in Rome, Vienna, Berhn, Madrid, Moscow, Amsterdam, 
Brussels, and down again to querulous captive of his inveterate 
enemy, he could meditate on an epigram he had applied to 
another, but which in the end applied only to himself. 

For nearly six years he lived in St. Helena, surrounded by 


a few faithful friends, reading and studying the miUtary history 
of the past, or dictating records of his own campaigns ; the 
latter almost the only pleasure now left him. ' They are of 
granite ; envy cannot bite at them,' he exclaimed once when 
speaking of the judgment which posterity would pass on his 
achievements on European battlefields. 

On 5th May 1821, Napoleon died of cancer in the stomach. 
His remains were interred at St. Helena ; but in 1840 they 
were brought to Paris, where they rest fittingly to this day, 
among the other great heroes of France. 

With the death of its illustrious captive the prosperity of 
St. Helena seemed to vanish, as if in revenge for the harsh- 
ness with which he had been treated. In 1834 the island was 
ceded by the East India Company to the nation, when it 
became a crown colony. But it had only been useful as a 
station for saihng vessels, and with the introduction of steam 
longer journeys could be made without putting into port; and 
after the Suez Canal was opened it soon lay altogether out 
of the beaten track. Still maintained as a naval and till 
recently as a military station, it possesses a certain strategic 
importance : as a commercial settlement its use is practically 

The battle of Waterloo decided something greater than the 
fall of Napoleon. It was the end of the world-struggle. The 
The End of ^^* bitter contest between the great powers of 
the World- Europe for the control of the outer world ended 
struggle. (definitely with the capture of the French Emperor. 
It had begun with the discovery of America and the new 
route to the Indies. 

For a century Spain and Portugal had been supreme. 
Then the rebellion of the Netherlands, the defeat of the 
Armada, and the insults to the Spanish and Portuguese flags 
on the high seas marked the decay of the empires that had 
aspired to universal dominion. 


In their place, and on the ruins of their power, rose four 
great nations, France, England, Holland, and Sweden, to 
dispute the prize. The latter, as the head of a great Scandi- 
navian federation, seemed at one time about to take a great 
part in developing the extra-European lands. But her material 
resources were small, and they were wasted on the brilliant 
but useless exploits of her royal family in Germany and 
Russia. The union of Denmark, Sweden, and Norway was 
never thoroughly accompHshed, and the possibility of a new 
Sweden overseas vanished under the stern competition of 
the three remaining powers. 

Of those three, Holland was for a time the most successful. 
The sailors who manned her ships, the citizens who directed 
her commerce, the settlers who founded New Amsterdam in 
one hemisphere and Batavia in the other, procured her a 
magnificent range of territory. 

But the great trading empire of Holland was only too 
literally a house built on the sand. The dominions at home 
were small. They were constantly threatened by the full 
force of the North Sea, which had already destroyed half of 
them. Not less dangerous was the enmity of human rivals. 
England was frequently at war with Holland, and a large 
part of the Dutch colonies soon acknowledged the British flag. 
France was likewise covetous of the goodly heritage on her 
northern frontier. Louis xiv. laid rough hands on the Nether- 
lands, but was beaten back. Under Napoleon, however, 
Holland was reduced, in fact if not in name, to a mere 
province of the French Empire. At his fall, the independence 
of the country was restored and guaranteed, and many of 
the oversea possessions were given back. The kingdom is 
to-day positively greater than ever, but relatively it has 
declined, and its share in the world-struggle was merely 
passive after the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713. 

There remained two great nations to dispute the universe 


in the eighteenth century. The contest, indeed, between 
France and England was not new. For the last four cen- 
turies of the Middle Ages they had been rivals. It was France 
that sustained the shock when the Plantagenets endeavoured 
to found a continental empire. It was the French who finally 
drove the English of! the European mainland, and thus 
shattered the illusion that misled all our rulers from WiUiam 
the Conqueror to Queen Mary. 

But the contest for Europe was hardly at an end, when the 
two nations were pitted against each other overseas. French 
and EngHsh fishermen were already ill-disguised enemies off 
the coast of Newfoundland. A few years later French and 
English merchants were bidding against each other in the 
marts of Bengal ; French and English pohticians were nego- 
tiating against each other in the courts of Indian princes. In 
Africa, the httle settlements of either nation were deadly 
rivals. In America, the colonists of Canada and New England 
were jealous of each other's success. 

The Seven Years' War brought the quarrel to a head. 
Everywhere outside Europe, England was victorious. The 
French were driven from Asia and America. The colonies that 
remained to them were small, but valuable. Again they 
attempted to build up an empire overseas. Again the 
Napoleonic wars gave England her opportmiity. Again 
the French colonies fell into the hands of England, along 
with many of the Dutch. And at the Congress of Vienna 
in 1814 the greater part of all these territories were finally 
made over to Britain. 

From that time the lead of Britain in colonising has never 
been questioned. France has created another colonial empire, 
greater and more prosperous than the first ; Germany and 
Italy have entered the competition for overseas territory ; 
Russia has extended her sway in marvellous fashion over the 
barbaric regions of Central Asia. But in mere size the British 


Empire is by far the largest. Its territories are indisputably 
the most fertile. Its system of government, whether demo- 
cratic or despotic, is the best yet obtained, although evidently 
not the best obtainable. Since the fall of Napoleon the 
British have been engaged in great and terrible wars in all 
parts of the world, but the general ideal of the empire has 
happily been peace : and it may be said that, while England 
would neither have acquired, nor kept her empire had she 
feared the appeal to the sword, she would also have been 
unable to develop it, in so far as it has been developed, had 
it not been that her first wish was for peace. 

The history of the British Empire, so far as we have 
followed it at present, has been mainly one of conflict, from 
the day that Drake ventured into the charmed circle of the 
Indies, till the day that Nelson drove the French out of 
Egypt and off the high seas. But we have still to follow 
the progress of our people during the century that has elapsed 
from the end of the world-struggle to our own time : and 
the latter period is far more absorbing and of far more 
importance, for it tells of the foundation of British institutions 
and the growth of the British race in all parts of the earth ; 
it speaks of the energy that has gone to create great states 
and splendid civiUsations where previously the wallaby and 
the dingo, the tiger, the leopard, or the bison have roamed 
unchecked ; it proves that, in contact with native races, we 
have endeavoured to deal uprightly and wisely, in spite of 
the temptations to which we have too frequently succumbed ; 
and it shows that, wherever our people may be, in the middle 
of Asia, in the deserts of Africa, or in the yet waste up- 
country of Austraha, they have still remained true to the old 
British stock whose proud boast it has ever been that they 
possess Hberty with order, and a high standard of duty with 
the courage to do it. God in his mercy grant that the future 
which stretches before us may be as glorious as the past ; 


that we may neither be bHnd to our opportunities nor unjust 
to others in laying hold of them ; and that when the hour 
of danger comes, as assuredly it will, we may not be found 
lacking in the will and the power to stand firm in defence of 
our own. 


Printed by T. and A. Constable, Printers to His Majesty 
at the Edinburgh University Press 


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